Welcome to New Jersey Devils News & Rumors, a weekly segment that will be released every Friday this season. Since our last edition, the team earned their first win since Dec. 6 against the Florida Panthers and have a record of 22-9-2.
New Jersey will play one final game before the holiday break. On Dec. 23 they will host the Boston Bruins and welcome back a few familiar faces including Taylor Hall, Pavel Zacha, and A.J. Greer. The team will look to build off of their comeback victory over the Panthers and end a troublesome month on a high note.
Related: Devils Send Message in Victory over Panthers
Latest News & Highlights
Injuries are beginning to mount for the Devils as the team lost two key defensemen during their most recent road trip. The good news is that New Jersey is closer to getting one crucial piece back. Let’s dive into the team’s injury report.
Devils Injury Report & Updates
- Ondrej Palat continues to slowly inch towards a return. Head coach Lindy Ruff told the media that he is close to joining the team at practice and has been skating on his own.
- On Dec. 22 the club announced Nathan Bastian has officially been placed on injured reserve retroactive to Nov. 26. He has missed 11 games with an apparent shoulder injury. The club’s record without the 6-foot-4 forward is 4-5-2.
- Defenseman John Marino was injured during the team’s Dec. 20 game against the Carolina Hurricanes. He was hit by Seth Jarvis with 3:36 left in the middle period, but it is unclear if that is what led to his upper-body injury. Per Ruff, he is listed as week-to-week.
- Ryan Graves only played 1:03 against the Florida Panthers on Dec. 21. Zac Dalpe hit the Devils’ blueliner who attempted to crawl to the bench before getting assistance from a trainer and Damon Severson. Ruff told the media the 6-foot-5 defenseman needs to be further evaluated and will see the team doctors on Dec. 23. For the short-term, he is out with a lower-body injury.
Okhotiuk Gets His First Call-Up of the Season
The loss of Marino and Graves forced the Devils to make a move, and on Dec. 22, the team announced they called up defenseman Nikita Okhotiuk.
The blueliner has appeared in 17 games for the Utica Comets this season. He has scored two goals and collected six points during that duration. The 22-year-old is known for his physical presence and had 16 hits in five games with the Devils during the 2021-22 campaign.
During the morning skate, he was paired with Kevin Bahl, who will be appearing in his eighth game this season. The two are familiar with each other as they occasionally were paired together in the American Hockey League (AHL) in addition to playing together in juniors.
After the morning skate, he met with the media and was asked about his physical style of play and said he does not want to run around and hit everybody when he suits up against the Bruins tonight (Dec. 23). He is looking to play a smart and simple game, but will not shy away if the opportunity presents itself.
Luke Hughes Named Captain of 2023 U.S. National Junior Team
Devils prospect Luke Hughes was named the captain of the 2023 U.S. National Junior team on Dec. 17. He became the fifth University of Michigan Wolverine to earn the honors.
During an interview with Mike Morreale of NHL.com, TSN director of scouting Craig Button discussed New Jersey’s former fourth-overall pick.
“We talk about the skating, but it’s also the mindset that Luke Hughes has,” Button said. “It’s that ability to recognize [and say], ‘I can make the difference and I want to make the difference.’ He’s a great competitor to go along with those great skills, and he wants to be a difference-maker in the game. That’s what stars do, and certainly I see Luke Hughes as a star for the New Jersey Devils in the years to come.”
The 2023 IIHF World Junior Championship will be held from Dec. 26-Jan. 5. in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and Moncton, New Brunswick.
Related: Devils Prospect Report: 2023 World Junior Championship & More
That’s all for this week’s News & Rumors. Be sure to check back next week to find out the latest happenings surrounding the Devils.