Devils: The Meteoric Rise and What Lies Ahead
The New Jersey Devils' 2022-2023 season was nothing short of a revelation. The young team, led by rising stars like Jack Hughes and Nico Hischier, not only took giant leaps forward but also made a compelling statement that they are here to stay. Their ESBC Power AI ratings saw one of the most significant increases in NHL history, a whopping 10 points. The upcoming 2023-2024 season promises to be an exciting one for the Devils, as they look to capitalize on last year's gains and continue their upward trajectory.
A Retrospective: 2022-2023 Season
The Devils had a break-out season, finishing second in the Metropolitan division, just a single point behind the powerhouse Carolina Hurricanes. A major part of this success was their young core. Jack Hughes led the team with 99 points, while Nico Hischier tallied 80. Dougie Hamilton provided much-needed stability on defense, and the goaltending tandem of Akira Schmid and Vitek Vanecek performed admirably.
However, despite their regular-season success, the Devils were eliminated by the Carolina Hurricanes in the second round of the playoffs in a five-game series, leaving room for growth and lessons to be learned.
Offseason Moves: Arrivals and Departures
The Devils were not complacent during the offseason. While they did lose wingers Tomas Tatar, Yegor Sharangovich, Miles Wood, and Jesper Boqvist, who combined for 56 goals, they addressed this with impactful additions. Tyler Toffoli and Tomas Nosek were brought in, and a full season from trade deadline acquisition Timo Meier is expected to more than fill that scoring void.
On the defensive side, the departures of Damon Severson and Ryan Graves might be a little more difficult to compensate for. New additions Cal Foote and Colin Miller will have to play significant roles, and a potentially expanded role for Luke Hughes is on the horizon.
Goaltending and Coaching
Akira Schmid and Vitek Vanecek will continue as the team's goaltending duo. While they may not make headlines, they offer reliability, which can be a cornerstone for a team looking to make a deep playoff run.
Lindy Ruff will continue as the head coach, a wise decision considering the team's considerable improvement under his guidance last season.
2023-2024 Season Outlook
With the Carolina Hurricanes expected to remain strong, the battle for the Metropolitan division title will be a must-watch. The Devils have a young, dynamic core and new additions that promise to elevate the team's performance. However, there are questions on defense that need to be answered, and the goaltending, while solid, could always surprise—either way.
The Final Analysis
The Devils are no longer a team of potential; they are a team that has started to realize that potential. Last year's improvement wasn't a fluke; it was a statement of intent. The 2023-2024 season provides them with the stage to affirm that they belong in the league's upper echelons, and it would not be surprising to see them go toe-to-toe with the Hurricanes for divisional supremacy.
The young core, combined with smart offseason moves and stable management, makes the New Jersey Devils one of the most intriguing teams to watch in the upcoming NHL season.
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