As the New Jersey Devils continue to navigate the 2021 offseason, one player whose new deal is still being worked on is Yegor Sharangovich. After seemingly coming out of nowhere to make the team during the shortened 2021 season, Sharangovich went on to establish himself as a real-deal rookie. In 54 contests, the 2018 fifth round selection put up 16 goals and 14 assists for an even 30 points. Additionally, he only took a total of two minor penalties all season for the team. Not bad at all for a 22 year old who in the prior two seasons hadn’t even been a half point per game player in the AHL.
Perhaps his biggest contribution to the lineup was the chemistry formed throughout the season with Jack Hughes. While they weren’t regular partners until close to season’s end, Yegor’s shoot first mentality paired well with Jack’s creativity and passing skill. This left many of us hopeful that the Devils had found a scoring winger who gelled with Hughes, something that he lacked for most of his own rookie season. While it was only a small sample size, the outlook was good, and it would be a good assumption that Lindy Ruff might head into training camp planning to keep those two linked.
Because of that, 2021-22 stands to be an important campaign for Yegor; prior to his KHL loan to start 2020-21 leading into his above rookie numbers, he didn’t appear to be anything more than an average prospect. Sure, he showed great flashes at times in the minors, but he didn’t look as though he could be an impact guy at the next level. All of that changed with his play in a truncated, condensed NHL season. Now, Sharangovich seems poised and primed to be an integral piece of the new identity that the Devils are forging.
The Devils need Sharangovich to take another step forward this season; last season saw him scoring at a 0.55 ppg pace, which would equate to 46 points in a full 82 game season. For a team that has been starved for offense for most of the past decade, Sharangovich will need to start putting up true Top 6 Forward numbers if he wants to stay in the team’s Top 6. Personally, I’d like to see that ppg pace increase to about 0.75 this season, which would equate to 60 points if he appears in all 82 games. Whether Yegor can take the next step forward or not in his development could determine whether he lives up to the hype that has been built around him, or if he just settles in as another complimentary piece.
If the former happens, then great! The Devils will have solidified one of the scoring threats needed alongside their young playmaking centers, and this (along with other improvements) should lead to better results for the team. If the latter happens, well that leads to a difficult situation. Right now the Devils have a lot of complimentary players up front, but not any that have proven themselves to be star caliber just yet. This could lead to one of two scenarios: the first would be one where the team scores by committee and finds success with the aid of consistent goaltending and good defense. The other scenario would be what I’ll term “The Darkest Timeline” where the team rinses and repeats what it’s been doing for, again, most of the past decade.
A step (or leap) forward from Sharangovich helps the Devils to take one step away from The Darkest Timeline and one step towards having a competitive team again. With the rest of the division either stagnating or worsening around them (as John wrote about earlier this week), now is the time for some of the young Devils to live up to their potential. For Yegor Sharangovich, who burst onto the scene in 2021, we’d all love to see him burst into stardom in 2021-22.
Do you believe this to be an important season for Yegor Sharangovich? Will he increase his offensive contributions in a season that should be less compact? Do you think he settles in as just a complimentary piece? What are your hopes for him in 2021-22? Leave any and all comments below and thanks as always for reading!