Hockey

Devils Returning to Full Health

|
Image for Devils Returning to Full Health

Devils Missing Nathan Bastian on the Wing

The New Jersey Devils have added a bit of a physical body, solid skater, and a potential bottom 6 regular in Fabian Zetterlund. Zetterlund was brought into the team to replace Nathan Bastian who was selected by the Seattle Kraken in the 2021 NHL expansion draft.

https://twitter.com/amandacstein/status/1463949595063500809?s=20

One of the first things to take notice of Bastian’s style of hockey is that he and Michael McLeod have been playing hockey together from their time with the Mississauga Steelheads of the OHL, and were both in the same NHL Draft. Nathan was the second-round pick after McLeod was a first-round pick. Given the past few seasons, Bastian brings that skilled yet meat and potatoes style of hockey that makes it very complicated for teams to play against.

Via Evolving Hockey
Evolving Hockey

Another aspect of Bastian’s game is that he can win a lot of puck battles, and gain an edge in the central role. It wouldn’t be surprising to see him getting into fights and being able to gain a lot of physical matchups against some very tough opponents. Bastian is a heart and soul type of forwarding who improves a team like the Devils on the even-strength and shorthanded situations. He is going to contribute a lot to the Devil’s depth chart on the 3rd and 4th lines.

There has been some improvement to McLeod’s game with himself being the motor that drives a line as a centerman, but that element he’s missing is his fellow crash buddy Bastian. What Lindy Ruff will likely do is apply both of them together during a game and let them use that almost lifelong chemistry and gel-like they did similarly to their days in Mississauga.

Jack Hughes Enroute To Normalcy

After the recent updates per Amanda Stein of the Devils showing center Jack Hughes in a non-contact sweater (uniform) it shows that he’s progressing back nicely after the recent hit from the Kraken game. The Devils have gone 6-5-4 without Hughes since game 2 without him in the lineup. Hughes when healthy this season is 2-0-0 with the 1 game-winner on opening night. The Devils are a really dangerous team that has come back to not only steal points but even at times outright win them without the young center.

If the Devils can handle playing in tough games like the ones against the Calgary Flames, the Washington Capitals, and taking the New York Rangers to a shootout and coming back to shock the two-time Stanley Cup Champs against the Tampa Bay Lightning. Having Hughes bringing that 1st line center skill and offensive dynamic on top of that Selke style of defense will be a huge asset going forward. Teams thinking the Devils will be easy to pick apart won’t be a very easy task. This team is playing very well and is proving to other teams that this team will make a big push for a playoff spot.

Yegor Sharangovich & Jack Hughes Dynamic

Yegor Sharangovich beginning to get as lethal as a true Belarusian sniper like he did last year is a big plus with Hughes on his way coming back from a dislocated shoulder. Sharangovich playing with a very balanced dual-threat Hughes will improve Sharangovich’s defensive play is what is his weakness because he’s a literal NHL sniper who would be perfectly complemented by a player like Hughes. What needs to be done is getting these highly skilled players clicking more frequently and keep playing relentlessly which proves to critics that the Devils are moving towards the wild card and playoff berth since the 2017-18 season.

Bullish Takes

If New Jersey Devils GM, Tom Fitzgerald is a very bullish deal maker he should be looking at teams like the Chicago Blackhawks, and the Vancouver Canucks for under 30-year-old players with term. That kind of selection can bolster the wings, but also improve the defense with the Devils looking to play meaningful games. Targets to take into consideration would be guys like Dominik Kubalik, Brock Boeser, Quinn Hughes type who would very likely be one of the three ideal trades to improve the Devils.

Main image credit

Embed from Getty Images

Share this article

Former writer for Pucks and Pitchforks and The Puck Authority. I cover New Jersey Devils hockey and NHL Draft prospects. I have a podcast called Heads Up Hockey on Anchor.fm