Last season went down in the what-might-have-been department for the New Jersey Devils, with Jack Hughes missing 32 games, Miles Wood only playing in three games and defensemen Dougie Hamilton and Ty Smith also out for extended periods.
New Jersey wasn’t making the playoffs even with a completely healthy roster, but perhaps the Devils could have made some of the postseason contenders a little uncomfortable. The NHL playoffs odds are still not calling for a playoff appearance for the Devils, but that will change sooner rather than later.
The hope is that the continued development of the recent draft picks and acquisition of veteran players will allow New Jersey to surprise those making NHL predictions by making a run at the postseason. Bringing in multiple Stanley Cup champion Ondrej Palat could help with the future as a young team learns how to win.
Let’s check the latest NHL picks, stats, injury reports, and NHL predictions. We’ve plenty of NHL expert picks for you to consider.
New Jersey Devils Odds
- To win Stanley Cup +7500
- To win Eastern Conference +3300
- To win Metropolitan Division +1600
- To make playoffs Yes +140 / No -170
Player to Watch
Hughes had 18 goals and 34 assists in 117 games over his first two seasons. Those are solid numbers, but for a former No. 1 overall pick who was projected to be a face of the franchise type of player, that is not good enough.
Hughes began to show what he was capable of as he averaged more than a point per game. If his injury-shortened season hadn’t been limited to 49 games, he might have topped 40 goals and 90 points.
Now that his offensive game is starting to mature, he will need to work on being better at faceoffs and defending in his own zone as he becomes one of the top players in the NHL. The NHL predictions list Hughes at +6600 in the odds to win the Rocket Richard Trophy as the NHL’s top goal scorer.
- Player to Watch: C Jack Hughes
Smith is another of the former first-round picks with lofty expectations attached.
Smith scored 40 goals in his last three WHL seasons, with a high of 19 in 46 games in his final season with the Spokane Chiefs. That is the type of production that Devil’s fans are expecting.
The Stanley Cup champion Colorado Avalanche leaned heavily on Cale Makar and the New York Rangers feature Adam Fox. Can Smith be that same type of player? That remains to be seen.
On a team loaded with former first-round selections, he is among the players being counted on to help New Jersey take the next step. The Devils are wisely adding proven defensemen who take care of business in front of the net and that should only help Smith thrive as a puck-moving defenseman and a mainstay on the power play.
- Breakout Watch: D Ty Smith
After adding Ryan Graves and Hamilton, the Devils continue to tinker with its defensive corps. John Marino comes in from the Pittsburgh Penguins while veteran Brendan Smith will provide some leadership on the blueline.
Goalie Vitek Vanecek was signed away from Washington after he was 41-22-10 over the last two regular seasons. He will team with Mackenzie Blackwood in goal. Vanecek had a shutout against Boston as the Devils improved to 4-1 in the preseason.
The biggest move was signing former Stanley Cup champion Palat away from Tampa Bay. He has scored more than 10 goals in eight of the last nine seasons and he will add some scoring punch as well.
There are teams that the Devils need to jump over, but there is more than enough talent for New Jersey to be in contention for a playoff spot, especially if the team figures out how to win on the road.