Are They Better?
Yeah. Of course, they are. At least on paper, they are.
With the additions the Devils made they shouldn’t be considered a basement team. They added quality at every position but in nets. They have a possible number one center. They rounded out their top-six with a skilled forward in Gusev and added a power forward in Wayne Simmonds.
GM Ray Shero had an amazing summer. He did his job by giving his team the quality they need to compete in this league. Now the question is: “will it work”?
The problem with adding all of that quality is if it can actually gel together an become a team? Again, Shero added three new pieces to his top six and a number one defenseman within a few months.
Maybe the Devils have no issues integrating all of that quality at once. But there is a legitimate chance they don’t.
There’s also a legitimate question to ask if any of the players they added can actually be what the Devils expect them to be.
Who knows what Nikita Gusev will be in the NHL. His KHL stats are fantastic, but as we all know the KHL isn’t up to the same standards as the NHL. You can add Jack Hughes to this question too. He’s never played a game in the NHL. He’s certainly talented, but so was Nail Yakupov when he was drafted first overall in 2012 and he’s no longer in the league.
Simmonds had a down year and is now 31 years old. We know that power forward deteriorate quicker than anyone else. Have we seen the signs that he’s just not the same player anymore?
The same question can be asked of P.K. Subban. There’s a reason the Predators were willing to move on from Subban, and it’s not only to do with his $9 million cap hit.
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The New Jersey Devils are going to be an interesting team to follow in 2019-20 because everything can break their way and they could very well find themselves back in the playoffs. But it could also just as easily not break their way.