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RAISING HELL: Devils’ New Faces. Did They Improve This Offseason?

August 31, 2022, 3:16 PM ET [18 Comments]
Sam Woo
New Jersey Devils Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
The New Jersey Devils may have not gotten the biggest free agent prize in Johnny Gaudreau or landing Matthew Tkachuk via blockbuster trade. However, the Devils have certainly gotten better in the past two months with the acquisitions of Onrej Palat, Erik Haula, Brendan Smith, John Marino, and Vitek Vanacek.

The Devils are a young team and Tom Fitzgerald spent all the way to the cap ceiling to bring some new leadership and character players onto the roster. In addition, Fitzy did a masterful job building this roster recognizing what his team really needed and was not afraid to make a move.

Palat and Marino

Ondrej Palat and John Marino came to the Devils right around the time after Johnny Hockey decided to take his talents to Columbus. The Devils may have overpaid for Palat’s services but his Stanley Cup experience and contributions to the Lightning’s recent success is invaluable. He will be a top six forward and play with the likes of Jack Hughes, Nico Hischier, and Jesper Bratt. He will be asked to lead by example. Then came John Marino via trade with the Pittsburgh Penguins in exchange for Ty Smith and a 3rd round pick. Devils were not going to wait around and go through more growing pains. By obtaining Marino, the Devils get right-handed puck moving defenseman that is entering his prime at a reasonable cap hit. I hope that Devils fans do not see as many mistakes on the blueline with John Marino in the lineup as opposed to Ty Smith.

Haula Line

The Devils third line was inconsistent throughout the past three seasons. By trading Pavel
Zacha to the Boston Bruins, the Devils get a veteran player in Haula that can play on the third line. Sure, Zacha may have a much bigger upside but the results were mixed for the 6th overall pick in 2015. Zacha had his chances to prove himself but regressed last season. A change of scenery in Boston will help the big forward. Nevertheless, the Devils get a versatile utility man forward that can play center and wing. Haula can kill penalties and has decent speed. Moreover, do not forget, Haula did score 29 goals once in the regular season for the Vegas Golden Knights.

More Beef On Defense

Brendan Smith gives the Devils defense some experience and depth. Smith has decent size and can bring that physicality plus stick up for his teammates. The Devils need to protect their goaltender and their star players like Hughes and Hischier. This may not be a sexy two-year signing but it is a necessity that the Devils have these type of role players on the roster.

Vanacek Our Devils Savior?

Goaltending was certainly an issue for the Devils for quite a while now. Maybe third time’s a charm for Fitzy? If Vitek Vanacek and a healthy Mackenzie Blackwood can put it together as a tandem, the Devils would have a good chance to compete each game and improve in the Metropolitan Division standings.

However, will all these offseason moves be enough to get the Devils into the playoffs?


Sam Woo is co-host and executive producer of the Let's Go Devils Podcast which can be heard live every Sunday at 9pm ET and Wednesday at 8:30pm ET.

You can follow Sam on Twitter: @PrimetimeSamWoo
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