Last summer, I posited a question: could the New Jersey Devils get a 10-goal scorer on the power play in 2022-23? The year before, in 2021-22, the best was Jack Hughes with only 7, but if you remember, he was hurt for a decent portion of the season, and he was on pace to hit the 10-goal threshold on the power play over a full 82 games. No one else, however, was really in the running, so it was a one-man show in that regard.
So, were they able to do it last year? For reference, there were 42 skaters in the NHL last season who scored at least 10 goals on the power play, all the way up to Leon Draisaitl, who had an absolutely ridiculous 32 power play goals during the regular season last year. Here are the top Devils power play scorers, how many goals they had, and where they ranked on the list, thanks to Natural Stat Trick:
No other Devil last season had more than 2 power play goals, so no one else was really worth listing here. The answer then, really, is no, the Devils did not have a 10-goal scorer on the power play last season. Timo Meier was a beast with 17 power play goals, tied for 8th last year with Kirill Kaprizov, but only 4 of those 17 came with New Jersey, while 13 of them were scored while he was still with San Jose. You cannot credit the Devils for having a 10-goal scorer on the power play when the guy you are crediting with that feat had only 4 while wearing the red and black.
I honestly thought that if Jack Hughes played a full season, he would have crossed the threshold last season. He played in 49 regular season games in 2021-22 and had 7, a pace that would’ve put him at around 12 power play goals over 82 games. But in 78 games, across almost 250 power play minutes, he managed just 9, falling just short. Dougie Hamilton, Jesper Bratt, and Nico Hischier were all similarly just short with similar power play minutes, Jesper Bratt perhaps looked the best out of the all considering he had around 15-20 minutes less than the other guys and still potted 8 goals.
Now, the positive here is that the Devils had 4 skaters with at least 7 power play goals, and Meier was on a pace to be his dominant self in NJ as well, so you can consider the team to have 5 competent power play goal scorers. That is a great thing, as it keeps defenders off balance. Everyone knows Ovechkin is going to shoot the puck when he is out there for Washington with the man advantage. No one is surprised by what they do. But the Devils can pass it around to any one of 5 different guys who are all dangerous and can score out there. This is perhaps New Jersey’s greatest strength on the power play.
The thing is, however, no one was really a dominant scorer for them either, so there was no huge threat either. Plus, this is something the Devils have not really been able to do all that often for some time now. The last Devil to achieve the feat was Kyle Palmieri, who did it in both 2018-19 and 2019-20. So it has been something the Devils as a whole have struggled at doing in recent years. They obviously aren’t like Washington who just feeds Alex Ovechkin for one-timers and lots of goals, but their lack of a defined shooter for their power plays has been noticeable.
Next season, though, I think you have to like the chances of a Devil reaching 10 power play goals. Timo Meier was at 17 last year, and a full, healthy year in New Jersey should get him over the 10-goal mark. He had 4 power play goals in 21 Devils games, so that equates to around 15 goals across 82 games. He would’ve made it easily. On top of that, any one of the other four Devils in that chart above all have a legit shot too, especially Jack, who was one goal away last year. Dougie is always blasting away on net too, so you never know.
Overall, I think you have to be excited about the prospects of the Devils power play going into next season, and that isn’t something I would’ve said basically any other offseason while writing for this blog. With the addition of Timo, the Devils have a really dangerous first unit on the power play and five guys who can put a hurting on the opposition. However, it really is Meier that makes the difference here, as he is truly dangerous on the man advantage and has a knack for finding the back of the net when out there. Put him on the first unit, get him in space, and let’s see how this thing works out this season. I’d bet that when next offseason rolls around, I am writing a piece about the improved power play goal-scoring of the Devils.