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The New Jersey Devils need to add more secondary scoring

July 11, 2018, 10:19 AM ET [89 Comments]
Todd Cordell
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Patrick Maroon has officially signed with the St. Louis Blues, which means there are exactly zero (0) reliable offensive options remaining in free agency.

Rick Nash is the only player left to surpass 30 points last season and he may not even play next season.

Barring a trade for help, which is still possible and perhaps necessary, here is how the New Jersey Devils could look up front come October.

Taylor Hall - Nico Hischier - Kyle Palmieri
Marcus Johansson - Pavel Zacha - Jesper Bratt
Blake Coleman - Travis Zajac - Stefan Noesen
Miles Wood - Brian Boyle - Joey Anderson/John Quenneville/etc.

The top line looks really good, especially given Hischier should continue to steadily improve. After that, there are question marks. A lot of them.

If healthy, I think Marcus Johansson will be a 45-50 point guy. The issue is he suffered two serious concussions last season and another hit to the head, incidental or not, could see him sidelined for a long time. That'd be a big problem as he's at worst the 4th best offensive forward on the roster.

Pavel Zacha has averaged 29 points per 82 games through two seasons and has a long way to go before he could be considered a remotely reliable scorer. He's probably playing over his head as the 2nd 'scoring' center.

You'd like to bank on Jesper Bratt building on his 35 point rookie campaign, however, I should note he found the scoresheet just five times in his final 30 games. It's entirely possible he overachieved early and is not ready for top-6 duties.

As for the 3rd line, it's not fair or realistic to expect consistent contributions from a declining center and a couple of wingers who have combined for 64 points in 220 career games – especially considering the defensive minutes they play.

Miles Wood took a big step forward last season but his impact would be mitigated alongside Brian Boyle (46.99 CF% and 35 GF% with, 51.99 CF% and 51.22 GF% without) on the 4th line.

I like Joey Anderson and John Quenneville as much as the next guy but they're not dynamic offensive talents and couldn't be relied on for more than ~25 points, if that, in a depth role.

I'm not trying to be all doom and gloom here but if the Devils don't acquire another reliable top-9 producer – ideally on the right side – I don't see how secondary scoring won't be a big issue again in 2018-19.

Ray Shero has some work to do.

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