As a New Jersey Devils fan, I am excited about this upcoming season and curious to see how the Devils bottom six forwards will perform. I said on my podcast (Woo Report) last night that they really are the top 12 forwards. It takes a team to win a Stanley Cup and the best players on your team are the ones out on the ice.
Devils Third Line – The X-Factor
The Devils third line was inconsistent the past few seasons under Lindy Ruff. Almost Jekyll and Hyde. The checking line were either non-existent and sleep walking or contributing on the scoreboard while putting their opponents on their heels. This was a big problem for the Devils last season because you did not know what you were going to get each night.
However, the acquisition of Erik Haula will indeed give the Devils a veteran presence and depth at the middle. He has the ability to chip in goals while being strong on faceoffs. Additionally, Haula can help on the penalty kill as well.
Andreas Johnsson and Tomas Tatar will be on contract years. Both players can be streaky and have gone on scoring droughts for long periods at a time. Could either player have a resurgence?
These veterans better bring their "A" game because the Utica Comets kids will be challenging them for playing time. Alexander Holtz, Tyce Thompson, Fabian Zetterlund, and Nolan Foote will be aiming to impress at training camp and try to make the roster. They will need to bring an edge and energy to their game consistently if they want to make an impact.
The BMW line will be back together again. Well, maybe.
Miles Wood is coming off a serious hip injury but, the Devils were confident enough in what they saw during a three game sample size last season. Nathan Bastian will look to continue his success, especially on the power play, after he scored 11 goals for the Devils. However, the big mystery is Michael McLeod.
Both the Devils and McLeod have been mostly radio silent since the Hockey Canada investigation began in late July. This issue should be addressed immediately at the start of training camp.
If Lindy Ruff can get consistency from all four lines, look for the Devils to be competitive for a playoff spot.
PODCAST - Woo Report EP238 - Examining The Devils Bottom Six Forwards
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.