The New Jersey Devils top scoring line of Jesper Bratt, Andreas Johnsson and Dawson Mercer has been a revelation to start the 2021-22 season. The trio is leading the way as the #1, #2 and #3 scorers on the team currently, having combined for 50 points as of this writing. It’s a safe bet that the Devils probably would be doing a lot worse in the standings than they’re doing right now if not for this line finding its way.
While Mercer deserves some credit for the line’s success (14 in 20 so far for a rookie isn’t bad at all), the improved play from last season of both Bratt and Johnsson has been the focus. While Bratt had a decent shortened and compacted 2021, Johnsson looked and played like a someone who had been a product of the environment he came from. Both of them, however, have turned things around for much better results, but in their own way. Bratt started 2021-22 off slowly with no points in the first five games, making his 18 in the past 15 that much more impressive. Johnsson has been contributing a bit more consistently to notch his 18 in 20 while also leading the team in goal scoring.
The question that will inevitably arise (as I guess it technically is during this article) is whether the pace is sustainable or if this is just a hot start for a line that is currently firing on all cylinders. The question I think is more so one that Bratt and Johnsson face due to their tenure in the league; if Mercer falters as a rookie, it can be corrected and worked through, with knowledge that all rookies endure some growing pains in the league. If the other two “go cold,” and no one else steps up their game throughout the season, the Devils level of success could plummet.
Personally, I’m going to answer the title with a yes; I don’t think there’s a cause for concern that how these three are playing is unsustainable. While there have been some games where these players have had larger contributions, we didn’t see all of the points come in one stretch with another string of games where nothing was brought. I think the Devils have been able to give this line some easier matchups at times (with Nico Hischier’s line taking the harder minutes), but they’ve produced in a variety of situations both home and away. They’re not just being spoon-fed easy minutes, and all three members of this line seem to already understand how to maximize each other’s abilities.
If Bratt and Johnsson keep up their current scoring pace, each would finish with roughly 74 points provided they appear in every contest. Mercer would see a lesser yet still impressive 57 points over that same span, which is an excellent total for a rookie. If Bratt and Johnsson reach their projection, they would be only the fourth and fifth Devils to eclipse the 70 point mark in the past decade. I’m not sure if that speaks more to the how inept the team has been offensively, or to how good Bratt and Johnsson have been this season, but I’m inclined to say that in this case it might be equally both.
Right now, this line is the Devils’ lifeline and heartbeat and they need to keep with their current pace to help the team stay competitive. I want to quickly just acknowledge Mercer again here before wrapping this up, as I believe his skillset has meshed well with what his linemates bring and the combination of all three is what has seen them all be so successful. Here’s to the more good things to come from this line going forward.
What are your thoughts on the Mercer/Bratt/Johnsson line? Do you think they can sustain this pace or no? Is there any one member of the line you worry about more than the others? Is it too early to begin coming up with a line name for this trio yet? Leave any and all comments below and thanks as always for reading!