First off, for those of you who read the entire 2016-17 season preview of the New Jersey Devils here at All About the Jersey, I want to thank you. It is readers like you that give us the avenue to write about our favorite hockey team, and I appreciate that. I hope you enjoyed all of it, and if you missed anything, all of the articles can be found here. I seem to have had one of the more consensus predictions with the other writers, thinking the Devils will end around 6th in the Metro with around 90 points, but let’s hope that Gerard and Trevor end up being the correct ones and the Devils do manage to gain a postseason berth for the first time in half a decade.
As with last year, I will follow up this website’s predictions about the Devils with links and discussions on some of the predictions for NJ from other websites. Here, we had 6 writers predict a 6th place finish within the division, 2 writers predict a 7th place finish in division, and 2 writers predict a wildcard berth. How does that stack up with others from around the interwebs?
Over at The Hockey Writers, Michael Gwizdala has a quality preview about the Devils that you should check out. He discusses some players in particular, like Taylor Hall, Damon Severson and others, predicts Reid Boucher to be the team’s breakout player, gives a discussion on who could be called up mid-season, and finally gives a season outlook. In the outlook, he gives his major question about the team, writing “To me the biggest question surrounding the Devils this season is: can they take the next step with sustained consistency?” He seems to believe the team can, as in the end he predicts that the Devils will finish 41-29-12, for 94 points overall, finishing 5th in the Metro. He does not predict whether or not that will be good enough to nab a wild card, but that is definitely a more positive outlook for New Jersey than most of our writers have the team, me included.
Over at Fansided, some of the writers of their blogs came together to write some season predictions. They do not predict where each team will finish, but do have predictions for things like the end of season awards, along with their most pleasant surprises and disappointments. One writer, Nathaniel, has the Devils as his big surprise. He writes, amongst other things, “Topping the Penguins or Capitals in the division might be too much to ask, but the Devils are poised to make a postseason run.” He actually predicts the Devils will finish 3rd in the Metro, behind only Pittsburgh and Washington. Then, surprisingly enough, out of the other 3 writers who contributed, David R also has the Devils as his Most Pleasant Surprise. He believes the Devils have a chance to be the most improved team in the league thanks to the “Vezina-like numbers” from Schneider, along with the addition of Hall. Again, more positivity!
USA Today, boringly enough, has the Devils finishing with the exact same record as last season, and in the same position, 7th in the Metro. How boring is that? I don’t even want to comment more.
The Hockey News (not to be confused with The Hockey Writers despite similar names), has a preview strictly about the Devils as well. They ask three key questions about the team, and throw out some advanced stats that you can check out, both about the offense and defense. However, they do focus a lot on the defense, and writer Dominik Luszczyszyn believes the Devils defense could perhaps be the worst in the league this upcoming season. He likes Andy Greene, but believes everyone else to be second liners at best, or a lot worse. Because of this, THN has the Devils finishing dead last in the Metro, and gives the team 70-1 odds at the Stanley Cup. At least the writers here at AATJ are not that pessimistic about the team!
I guess now with the World Cup under their belt, ESPN is trying to break back into hockey after what seems like a lifetime ignoring it. They have a prediction specifically about the Devils, written by Scott Burnside. I mean I did think their coverage was pretty good for the World Cup, but take it for what you will. Scott does say that he believes the Hall acquisition could end up being the “most impactful offseason move in the league.” He believes the Devils are “maybe closer than people give them credit for being,” but still has the team finishing 6th in the Metro despite mentioning that they will be in the hunt for a postseason berth come April. I can agree with that prediction, as it is pretty similar to mine!
Not that this is a prediction at all, but EA Sports ran a 2016-17 season simulation on NHL 17 that was posted on Thursday. Of course it is different from someone predicting what will happen, but then again what do we know that make our predictions better than a simulation from a video game? We just guess anyway. But given how the NHL 17 simulation went, I hope it is wrong! In the simulation, the Devils ended up 7th in the Metro and 15th in the Eastern Conference, ending with only 79 points. Only Columbus did worse in the Eastern Conference, and only Anaheim, Colorado and Vancouver did worse in the Western Conference. 79 points would be 5 points worse than last year, which is basically unacceptable in a rebuilding team barring some major injuries or other events that make regression impossible to avoid. It would, however, give the Devils another excellent first round draft choice, if that’s any consolation.
At Yahoo Sports, Puck Daddy has a Devils’ preview as well, and he mentions almost right off the bat that Cory Schneider should have been Team USA’s starter in the World Cup. Have to like him already! He asks the question did the Devils get better, worse, or stay the same, and his response is, “um, yeah, better.” He believes Taylor Hall and Adam Henrique could be lethal together, but does not believe we can trust the team at even strength given their putrid possession and shot percentages. He gives Hynes a 4 out of 10 on the coaching hot seat, which is not that hot (I might put it at less, I think he has this entire season before anyone questions him being here), and interestingly enough believes that Travis Zajac is the Devil most likely to go in the Las Vegas expansion draft despite calling him an underrated player. In the end, he predicts that New Jersey will get over 90 points and will have to fight in what he believes will be a very crowded wild card picture.
So there you have it. That is far from covering every single prediction out there about the New Jersey Devils, but it is a good array from different places around the internet. Some of them are very high on the Devils, some are very down on them, and some have similar views to the writers here. In the end, none of us really know more than what the NHL 17 video game does, we just predict. We can use advanced stats to back up our ideas, can mention trends or coaching influences, but they are just guesses after all. In reality, your guess is as good as any one of these, or any one of ours! In fact, they may be better. Statistically speaking, there is a decent chance that at least one person who reads this article has the perfect prediction, and the odds are definitely against it being one of the writers here, given there are only 10 of us who predicted. So, you may know the future!