You are reading the latest file in THN.com’s ongoing “Three Burning Questions” series. In this feature, we ask three key questions for each NHL team ahead of the start of the 2022–23 regular season. We are presenting three burning questions about the New Jersey Devils in this file.
Three burning questions for the devils in 2022-23:
1. Who is the starting goaltender for this Devils team? Over the years, Mackenzie Blackwood has been positioned by the Devils as their goalkeeper of the future. But he’s 25 now—seven years older than when New Jersey drafted him 42nd overall—and the road to success hasn’t been linear. After a career-high 47 games played in 2019-20, injuries and the COVID-19 virus added to Blackwood’s NHL time in more than two subsequent seasons each, to the point that he could only play 25 games in 2021–22. appeared in. ,
As a result, Devils GM went out this summer and acquired a new goalscorer – former Washington Capitals netminder Vitek Vanacek – who will challenge Blackwood to play this season. Veteran traveler Jonathan Bernier is also still around, so the competition can be fierce for minutes. If that’s not the case, and Devils head coach Lindy Ruff just keeps going a goalkeeper carousel, the chances of a playoff in New Jersey’s highly competitive Metropolitan Division are going to be pretty slim. It doesn’t matter who gives them a chance to win, it just has to be one in three.
2. Did Devils GM Tom Fitzgerald Spend New Jersey’s Salary Cap Space Wisely? The Devils had a good deal of cap flexibility in the off-season, but Fitzgerald lost Vanicek (signed for $3.4 million for the next three seasons), defenseman John Marino ($4.4 million under contract for the next five years), And further Ondrej Palt (signed $6 million per season for five years) and Erik Houla (signed $2.375 million for one year). It has greatly improved New Jersey’s depth, but is it enough to push the Devils into the playoffs?
Remember, you don’t only have to improve as a team to come later in the season, your divisional opponents will also have to decline to a remarkable degree. In the subway, that means the Pittsburgh Penguins and one of the Capitals have to succumb to the pressure, and also that division rivals in Long Island and Columbus have to make small strides. To grab one of the wild card berths for the Devils in the Eastern Conference, many things have to go almost entirely, let alone the top spot in the subway. But ownership and their long-suffering fan base are aching to see playoff hockey once again. This may be the final push in the final few weeks of the regular season for New Jersey, but they now have the horses to challenge multiple Metro teams, and if they’re not competing for one of those final playoff spots. Something serious has happened in the Garden State.
3. How long will Devils coach Lindy Ruff live if things go off track? Not long, we would suggest. Ruff is entering his third season behind the bench in New Jersey. Still, there’s a reason Fitzgerald hired former Florida interim head coach Andrew Brunett to serve as Ruff’s assistant this year. If the Devils stumble out of the gate, or go through any extended meltdown as a group, Brunet is right there for the Ruff to take charge.
He’s a demanding head coach who has earned the respect of most league observers, but Ruff doesn’t even have a Stanley Cup win under his belt to give him the catch he’ll need to avoid a bad stretch with the Devils. . As we saw this summer, the turnover rate of the NHL head coaching industry is higher than ever, and may be the first victim of a coaching carousel since the start of the rough season. If he wins, he sticks. If not, enter brunettes, and usher in a new era for devils coaching.