While the summers seem especially long for us New Jersey Devils fans the last 5 seasons, we are inching ever closer to the 2017-18 season. With training camps due to open in roughly two weeks, we take a look at some topics surrounding the team.
1.) September Severson
We’re one day shy of September, training camps are opening soon, and Damon Severson is still the only Devil without a contract. Ray Shero said earlier in the summer that both sides are working on a contract, yet we’ve heard nothing on how the discussions have gone. There’s been nothing regarding if the sides are looking long-term, short-term, big money or anything. This is a pretty big concern for the team at this point because if Severson holds out and it seeps into the season, the team will be an absolute dumpster fire on the back end. Hopefully, we hear some good news sooner rather than later on this issue.
Will Butcher is an interesting case for New Jersey in that he could potentially make the opening night roster; I’m not saying he will or that he should, but with the Devils lack of lefties, the chance exists. While Andy Greene and John Moore are locks to be on the team, I’m not so sure Mirco Mueller is, and Michael Kapla is definitely not a lock.
The timing could not have worked out any better for Butcher; if he wants to be an NHL player, he has the opportunity to earn the minutes by beating out the non-locks in training camp. Curiously, he was assigned #8, as traditionally for the Devils numbers that low are not given to players who will not be on the main roster. Perhaps Butcher is the exception; perhaps the rule has been done away with; or maybe where there’s smoke...
3.) High Hopes for Hischier
Another Devils rookie who is more of a sure thing to be on the opening night roster is #1 overall pick Nico Hischier. While expectations are a mixed bag depending on who you talk to, I feel as though the Devils will need a solid or better season out of Nico (with Travis Zajac slated to miss a number of months) if they want to be competitive.
I’ve seen a few different projections points-wise for Nico on the internet as the summer has gone on. Personally, I’d be happy with approximately 10 goals and 25 assists for his rookie year; while some may consider that low, the team isn’t going to be playoff bound this season. I would rather the Devils bring Nico along slowly this year and not put too much pressure/responsibility on him early. We’re looking to be successful long-term, and the only way to do that is to develop our young players properly, even a 1st overall pick.
4.) Who Takes the Biggest Step Developmentally?
The Devils will start the year with a number of young players in the lineup who already have had at least a taste of the NHL. In order for the team to move towards being a successful franchise again in the future, some of the younger players will need to start progressing towards their full potential as professionals.
For me, Pavel Zacha is the guy who NEEDS to step up this season; Zajac is out, Zacha has a full season under his belt, and he looked better and better last year as the season progressed. Finding chemistry with a player or two will be important, but Zacha will need to find a way to establish himself as an impact player for the Devils this season.
Now I’d like to hear what you think about any of the above topics; what happens with Damon Severson? Does Will Butcher make the team out of camp? How many points do you see Nico scoring? Who is your choice out of the young Devils to break out? Leave your thoughts/comments below and thanks as always for reading!