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Wonderful Wednesday: Five Positive Thoughts on the Devils for 2017-18 and Beyond

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In a time in Devils history where pessimism is easy to come across, I look at just good things.

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Toronto Maple Leafs v New Jersey Devils Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

Meta Intro

Excuse me while I get meta for a moment. In the comments to several articles I’ve written and seen written on AAtJ, I’ve seen the criticism that we are pessimistic or too gloomy. I don’t agree with that seeing as my last 6 articles of a last-place season were defenses of Michael Cammalleri and Ben Lovejoy, an advanced stats summary, a commentary on how McLeod was tearing it up, some landmarks for the end of the season, and a commenatry on how the Devils countdown to contention has begun.

With regards to other writers: since my Schneider article, which was ... contentious, Gerard had us list our favorite Devils, Alex said we had bad luck last year, and John said we have to make the playoffs next year.

Honestly, given the circumstances, I think much more effort is put into being positive than negative. But I get it. It comes with the territory of writing for a team that’s been playing poorly for a while. And you gotta give the people what they want ... so here is ONLY GOOD THINGS ABOUT THE DEVILS THIS YEAR AND BEYOND!

Five Good Predictions

1. I expect Adam Henrique to get 30 goals again this season.

Between the inevitable increase in linemate talent from the revolving door that was last year, and a slight increase in luck — he shot 14.1% after averaging was 15.7% before season, and lowest PDO since 2013 — he should expect easier sledding this season. Also put me in Alex’s camp of not wanting to trade Rico, I explain why in a tweet thread.

2. I expect Jeremy Davies, 7th round pick, to eventually get a real shot in the NHL.

There are a few reasons I am pointing this out. The two Devils podcasts I listen to, Devils Daily and Talking Red both commented on how good Jeremy Davies was in the prospect camp. Mike appeared on the Talking Red one so definitely give at least that one a listen. The impression Davies left jives with what others have said about his first season in college hockey. He was second on the team in defensive scoring and if he improves this year, we may even see him attempt a jump to the NHL in 2018 when he will be turning 22.

3. Marcus Johansson will become the best move Shero has made in his tenure as GM.

Dawson’s WAR model would have had him as the 3rd best forward on the Devils this year, Ryan’s passing data had him as the 2nd best playmaker by far this year, all this by sacrificing just a 2nd and 3rd round pick. That is the 3rd rabbit out of a hat after Palmieri and Hall that Shero has pulled, but I think it’s the biggest. I won’t be shocked if he leads the Devils in goals or assists this year.

4. Cory Schneider will have a bounce back season.

“But CJ didn’t you just say Cory is gonna be terrible”? No, that’s not what I said. I’m just focusing on this year right now, and it’s impossible to look at 2016-17 and not think he’s due for some modicum of positive regression. I absolutely expect top 20 numbers out of Cory and wouldn’t be shocked by top 15 or top 10. If he decides to turn it on, he could vault us into bubble status by himself.

5. The Metropolitan Division won’t be as ridiculous as last year.

According to Sean Tierney’s visualization of DTMAboutHeart’s data, of the 7 other teams in the Metropolitan division, only the Rangers and Hurricanes improved more in GAR60 (Goals Above Replacement per 60 minutes) than the Devils. The Capitals, Penguins, and Blue Jackets are all in the bottom 6.

Furthermore, in our division, we have 4 of the 6 highest teams in the league in PDO while we were 3rd lowest as Alex observed.

And 6 of the 8 teams in the division were at or below the average CHIP (cap hit of injured players).

In other words, unsurprisingly, the Metropolitan Division should not be as ridiculous as it was this season.

BONUS POSITIVITY

A couple extra things to be excited about. I don’t know every teams prospect pool by heart, but I have to think out forward prospect pool is among the best in the league, if not THE best at this point. The mix of top end talent (Zacha, Hischier, McLeod) and depth (John Q, Bastian, Speers and, like, the entire 2017 draft). Between that depth, and the fact that Blackwood massively improved towards the end of last year (seen in graph here), I expect good things out of the Binghamton Devils in their inaugural year after making the playoffs each of the past two years in Albany.

Your Thoughts

SO THERE YOU HAVE IT. Five exclusively positive thoughts and a few bonus ones from Mr. Pessimism himself. What things are you most excited about this season? Are you excited about the same things I am? Was this article too negative? Thanks for reading and leave your thoughts below!