On Friday, all the writers here at All About the Jersey gave our predictions for what we think this New Jersey Devils team will accomplish during the 2015-16 season. While we are fans and are generally optimistic people, we also realize the position that our favorite team is in this season, and have tempered our expectations as a result. Building off of this, I wanted to compile a list of what some other websites and people are predicting for the Devils and the Metropolitan Division for this upcoming season. Is there anyone out there that has a positive prediction for our favorite team, or is everyone in agreement about how bad this team might be?
Back in July, the Hockey Writers predicted the final standings for both conferences, and had the Devils finishing dead last in the Eastern Conference, just behind Toronto and Carolina. At the time, they wrote "they will likely give Arizona a run for its money in the Matthews sweepstakes for the league's worst record, but the Coyotes should "win" out." That is a dismal outlook for sure. However, more recently, the website did a complete season preview for the team. At the end of the article, under season outlook, writer Dan Rice wrote "In the past there have been numerous players that came through the Devils organization and never lived up to the backs of their hockey cards — often underperforming from what they were accustomed to with other teams. Perhaps all that changes now with Shero in charge of assembling this team from here on out." He was being as positive as he could, and wrote that there is honestly no way to predict what this team will do considering the massive amount of turnover that the organization is seeing. He left the door open for some positivity, which is nice indeed.
Over at The Score, writer Justin Bourne predicted the standings for each division. For the Metro, he has this as the final standings:
8. New Jersey Devils
Another last place finish predicted for the Devils. In his summary, he does not mention Carolina or the Devils at all, simply assuming that they will be locked at the bottom of the division.
At the Cannon, the SBN blog for the Blue Jackets, all the writers gave their predictions on Tuesday. Of the 6 writers, four have the Devils finishing 7th in the division, and 2 have the team finishing last. In all of the cases, they expect the bottom three teams to be the Flyers, Devils, and Hurricanes. On the flip side, 5 of the 6 have their own Jackets finishing 3rd in the division, while one writer has them grabbing a wild card at 4th in the division. The Metro is a very tight division at the top, with several good teams, so it is possible that Columbus gets the 3rd spot. They could also easily get a 5th spot, however, if they fall behind the two New York Teams and Washington.
Rant Sports also did a prediction of the Metropolitan Division about a month ago, and what do you know, they expect New Jersey to finish dead last. To explain, Darrell Samuels wrote "the Devils do have some bright youthful players on their defense and a steady goaltender in Cory Schneider in net, but they are in a year of transition and are not Stanley Cup threats." Hey, at least he mentioned Stanley Cup and Devils in the same sentence!
Three writers at Hockey Buzz predicted the Metropolitan standings a week ago. Interestingly enough, all of them predict that the Penguins will win the division while the Devils will finish in last place. In their short comments, Todd Cordell wrote that while he has been impressed with Ray Shero and John Hynes, there is just too much work to do to make this team good, and Ryan Wilson wrote that it is in the team's best interest to go for 30th place in the NHL so that they can have a good shot for the #1 overall pick next year. While having a good shot at Auston Matthews is certainly intriguing, I hope that the Devils are a little more competitive than that.
Keeping with the trend, USA Today's writer Kevin Allen did a preview of New Jersey, and mentions much of the same as everyone else. He says that while the Devils defense might be quite effective despite its youth, the offense will just be too bad to make up for it. He believes the Devils really need a star offensive player who can be "a leader and a flag carrier" and who "inspires people around him." But since the team does not have one, he says that they are a strong candidate to finish in the basement. He believes they will take a step backwards before finally moving in a positive direction.
The Fourth Period did a season prediction article in where each writer on the site predicted the champions and award winners. Then near the end, they also predicted which team would finish in 30th place in the NHL this season. Of the 7 writers, 4 picked Carolina, 2 picked Arizona, and one writer picked the Devils. I mean hey, at least it was only one of the seven writers, right!?
Grantland started their NHL preview this past week, and began it with those teams they labeled the "bottom-feeders". These are the teams they expect to finish near the bottom of the entire league. Interestingly enough, of the 7 teams they write about here, three are from the Metropolitan Division: New Jersey, Carolina, and Philadelphia. For the Devils, they have absolutely nothing good to say. They literally wrote "the Devils are quite possibly in the worst shape of any team," and they give NJ the "longest odds of winning a championship in the next five years." Their bold prediction is also that the Devils finish last in goals scored in the NHL, which I don't think is quite bold, but nonetheless they're predicting decline from this offense.
If I wanted, I could probably keep searching the internet to find some more predictions, but I don't want to keep beating a dead horse. It's clear that no one really thinks good things will be coming out of Newark this season, and it is honestly hard to blame most of them. New Jersey has not been good for a few seasons now, and is clearly in a period of transition with a new general manager and head coach. The Devils also regularly rank in the bottom 5 in terms of prospects, so it is not like new, young blood is emerging from Albany that will take the NHL by storm. Under these circumstances, the bad predictions make sense. If I was looking at this team from afar, I would predict the same thing. I mean heck, I predicted that they would finish 7th in the Metro as it is, and I'm a fan.
Given these predictions, it is up to the team on the ice to prove everyone wrong and go out and win some games. No one outside of hardcore fans will really start believing in this team until they prove that they can hang with other teams in this league and win. That may not happen this season, but I certainly hope it happens sooner than the guys over at Grantland believe.
What are your thoughts on what people are predicting for the Devils this season? Do you think their predictions are baseless, or do you think they have merit? Have you found other predictions that you would like to add? If so, please leave them in the comments below. Thanks for reading.