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New Jersey Devils: Dougie Hamilton Returns & More

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Hamilton Back On Lafayette Street (Prudential Center, Newark, NJ)

Per Amanda Stein of the New Jersey Devils, she tweeted defenseman Dougie Hamilton will officially return to the lineup. Dougie had his couple of practices in a non-contact sweater showing an appearance versus the Pittsburgh Penguins in Pittsburgh.

Hamilton has been a bright spot scoring 20 points in 30 games played (13 Assists) which is remarkable at 0.67 points per game average. Having Dougie back in the lineup should not only bolster the offensive end but crunch the average of 20:00 minutes the past 4 of 5 games he played before his jaw injury occurred.

The part of Hamilton’s game is that the former 9th overall pick in 2011 has shown he can be sound defensively. His long reach from that 6’6″ 230lb frame helps take time and space away on opposing skaters and helps keep evading skaters from reaching the high danger scoring areas.

Another part of the New Jersey Devils team dynamics is Dougie’s ability to score on the power play. Hamilton has yielded seven power-play points and would like to beat last year’s total of 18 points on the power play.

Extending Jesper Bratt Long Term?

 There are a plethora of reasons for Jesper Bratt being extended long term. Bratt is one of the most dynamic offensive weapons on the team. Despite being a Restricted Free Agent the Devils may need to pay up more cash than projected. Bratt has 43 points in 45 games played with 14 goals. 

Jesper Bratt is super complimentary on Jack Hughes’ flank. At times when you see both speedy forwards gliding so gracefully at turbo speed. You can see these two players process the hockey IQ, hockey sense. Fitzgerald has found that one-two punch that can finish off plays. It would be very prudent to lock Bratt up through the 2029-30 season with Jack Hughes’ contract as that set term. Cashwise 5.75 Million per AAV and 2.75 Million in performance bonuses where the first several seasons should be heavily front-loaded. 

Devils fans are enjoying a Draft Day steal in Jesper Bratt that is key to not giving up on players’ rounds 2 through 7. We are specifically about Round 6 of the 2016 NHL Draft. It is why I am very fond of not giving up so many mid to late-round picks because of the Jesper Bratt effect. 

Reevaluate The Coaching Staff & Bolster The Goaltending

As a fan of history and read some excerpts from The Art of War by Sun Tzu was quoted “If words of command are not clear and distinct if no orders are not thoroughly understood, the general is to blame. But if his orders are clear, and the soldiers nevertheless disobey, then it is the fault of their officers.”

Having seen a lot of plays wrongly executed on defense early this season to the power play early in the year not working. New Jersey’s power play and the penalty kill have improved recently, but it is a little too late in the season. Now the core group of players that are here next year will have an improved system if they get a new coaching staff. 

Covid19 quarantine protocols and injuries not only hurt this Devils group, the goaltending injuries and sub-par netminding has done nothing but tank the team like the Titanic. A reason to believe this free agency could be an avenue GM, Tom Fitzgerald looks down at and has to help guys like Nico Daws, and Akira Schmid gets another development cycle in before they’re ready at the NHL as starter and backup.  

Who knows how well Mackenzie Blackwood comes back into the next start of the 2022-23 season. Thy question that needs to have improved on is “how can goalie coach Dave Rogalski improve the goalies at the NHL level for the NJ Devils?” At this point, Tom Fitzgerald can’t be bringing in another Gillies-type goalie is time to play the tough puck and get this team in the middle of a playoff hunt and scare teams when you’re on their schedule.

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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 Also I write for Full Press Hockey.