So quick show of hands for those of you reading this; who had Pavel Zacha picked as one of the players who would be leading or tied for the lead in goal scoring at this point in the season? Okay, definitely can understand a lot of hands being up here. Follow up question: who had Andreas Johnsson for leading the team in scoring after 11 games, or any number of games for that matter? I’m seeing a lot fewer hands now...
So the man they call Mango coming alive this season has been a blessing for the New Jersey Devils, especially with Jack Hughes having missed most of the season to this point. The bigger picture here is the number of players who have started to contribute; this is reminiscent of some old Devils teams, where they didn’t really have any players who were their one and only true scoring threat. The Devils of the 1990s that were more known for their defense were also more well known for a scoring by committee approach. While the return of Hughes could wind up seeing him blossom into an offensive star, even if he does the rest of the Devils could also wind up becoming a team that brings a balanced attack against opponents.
Dougie Hamilton, Dawson Mercer and even Ryan Graves (who isn’t known for his offense) have all contributed a good amount of scoring to the team in their first year. Mercer might be the most impressive name from that trio as at just 20 years old, he’s tied for third in team scoring! Maybe he keeps up the pace, maybe not this season; Dawson has shown, however, that he can be a big part of the team’s future. Captain Nico Hischier has also found success in recent games, after some bad luck and an uninspiring game or two had some (including myself for a bit) questioning his overall offensive potential.
Jersey’s Team has also gotten some point contributions from Jesper Bratt (who has turned his bad start around nicely) P.K. Subban and Damon Severson, who also added a nice shootout game winning goal. Tomas Tatar has the same point total as Severson, but he’s played one more game and I think for someone who has had success offensively in his career, a little bit more from him would help to assuage some fears.
Speaking of more, there are a few players who need to step up a bit in terms of scoring by committee, namely Janne Kuokkanen and Yegor Sharangovich. Kuokkanen found the scoresheet two games ago, and needs to continue to do so, lest he suffer the same fate as Sharangovich. Sharangovich has had some awful luck to start the season, but also hasn’t looked like the player he was during the shortened season of 2021. He was the odd man out as a healthy scratch last game, and as the Devils put up a touchdown on Florida, I assume he finds himself in the same position for tonight’s game.
If the Devils can continue to have the group of players who are performing well continue to score at the pace they’re on, while hopefully some of the slow starters get going as well, the Devils could have a potent top to bottom group that finds ways to win tough games. Add Hughes and hopefully Miles Wood back to the mix eventually as well, and the Devils could find themselves with a good recipe for success under Lindy Ruff. As long as they can eventually figure out those pesky special teams!
What are your thoughts on the Devils and their fairly balanced point totals so far; is this the path they need to walk? Is this only going to work until Hughes comes back and blows everyone else’s totals out of the water? Are you worried about the lack of production from players like Sharangovich and Kuokkanen? Leave any and all comments below and thanks as always for reading!