Rangers 2022-23 Opponent Preview: New Jersey Devils

The New Jersey Devils are aiming to end their postseason drought this season. They have been rebuilding for some time and will look to take the next step to become regular contenders in the Eastern Conference. Jack Hughes, Nico Hischier, Dougie Hamilton, and Jesper Bratt represent a talented core that can make their team successful. Here’s a look at the Devils’ roster heading into the season.

2021-22 Record: 27-46-9 (63 points, did not qualify for the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs)

Season Series: 1-2-1

Devils Forwards

The Devils will enter the season with a young core that includes Hughes and Hischier, along with Bratt, Yegor Sharangovich, and Dawson Mercer. Hughes missed time due to a dislocated shoulder at the beginning of last season and a knee injury suffered toward the end of the campaign. A healthy Hughes will serve the Devils well as he is their best playmaker.

Bratt had a breakout season in 2021-22, finishing tied with Hughes for the team lead with 26 goals and led with 47 assists. His play made up for the loss of Hughes (the first-overall selection in the 2019 NHL Draft) as he was their best offensive player. Sharangovich and Mercer will aim to build on their play from 2021-22 as well to accompany the offensive threats in Hughes, Hischier, and Bratt.

Jack Hughes New Jersey Devils
Jack Hughes, New Jersey Devils (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

The biggest offseason addition upfront was Ondrej Palat, who won back-to-back championships with the Tampa Bay Lightning. He was valuable to their power play (PP) and penalty kill (PK), and will try to do his part to further improve the Devils’ 28th-ranked PP percentage of 15.56% and their 14th-ranked PK percentage of 80.19% in 2021-22. He is projected to be on the second line with Tomas Tatar and Hughes and the second PP unit in one of their defensive spots.

Devils Defense

Hamilton will enter his second season as the Devils’ top blueliner, along with Damon Severson, Ryan Graves, and Jonas Siegenthaler. Severson put up decent offensive numbers for a defenseman with 35 assists and 16 power-play points (PPP), the most among the team’s blueliners in 2021-22. Siegenthaler represents their most skilled defensive defenseman, and the front office recognized his value by rewarding him with a five-year contract extension during the offseason.

Related: Devils’ Defensive Depth Improves With Marino Trade

John Marino joined the Devils via a trade with the Pittsburgh Penguins for Ty Smith and a third-round pick in the 2023 Draft. Brendan Smith signed a two-year deal during the offseason and is another experienced player who can play forward if needed, while P.K. Subban’s contract ended during the offseason, and he decided to retire on Sept. 20.  

Devils Goaltenders

Vitek Vanecek joined the Devils’ goaltending depth after he was acquired from the Washington Capitals during the summer. After an injury-plagued season, Mackenzie Blackwood will look to rebound in the final year of his contract before he becomes a restricted free agent (RFA). Jonathan Bernier will also be competing for playing time when he returns after undergoing hip surgery last season. We will have to wait and see who stands out as a reliable starting netminder who can help the team to a playoff berth in 2023.

Schedule 

Nov. 28 – @ Rangers

Dec. 12 – @ Rangers

Jan. 7 – vs. Rangers

Mar. 30 – vs. Rangers

How the Rangers Match Up With the Devils

The New York Rangers match up well with the Devils as the superior team that was two wins away from reaching the 2022 Stanley Cup Final. These rivals will play each other tough in four meetings during the 2022-23 season. The Devils, with young stars like Hughes, Hischier, and Bratt will look to break their postseason drought while the Rangers, with core players, Artemi Panarin, Mika Zibanejad, Adam Fox, and Igor Shesterkin, will look to reach the Stanley Cup Final.

Devils head coach Lindy Ruff has expectations to reach the postseason for only the second time in the last 11 years, while Hughes, Hischier, Bratt, and the rest of the young stars are eager for their first playoff experience in their career. The club has shown the potential to be successful, but they need to be more consistent to take the next step in 2022-23.


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