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The New Jersey Devils Need More Impact Players

The New Jersey Devils Need More Impact Players
Published On: Thu, Jan 10
Apr 7, 2013; Buffalo, NY, USA; Buffalo Sabres goalie Ryan Miller (30) is hugged by Buffalo Sabres right wing Patrick Kaleta (36) after beating the New Jersey Devils at the First Niagara Center. Sabres beat the Devils 3-2 in a shootout. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

TheA New Jersey DevilsA are struggling to keep pace with other teams in the Eastern Conference this year. More troubling perhaps is the fact that there have been a number of games where theya€™ve either led and blown the lead, or outright been decimated by their opposition. While some (a lot?) of that can fall on coaching, some of it also has to fall to the fact that the Devils simply dona€™t have enough players who can take control of a game yet to be considered a trueA Stanley CupA contender. These players dona€™t exactly grow on trees either; you have to be lucky, or good enough to draft and sign enough of these players at one time.

The Devils realistically have one, maybe two players who can dominate and take over the pace of the game for sections at a time.A Taylor HallA is absolutely an impact player by this definition, as he single-handedly carries the Devils for periods at a time. Jerseya€™s Team has certainly missed Hall during this stretch that he has been absent; he plays hard, records points and makes match-ups more difficult for other teams.

I would argue thatA Nico HischierA is evolving into an impact player as well. In only his second full season in the NHL, Nico has 29 points in 38 games played, good for a pace of 63 points over a full 82 games. Hea€™s also quickly becoming an all situations player, as hea€™s obviously used at even strength and on the PP, but Coach John Hynes has also been turning to Nico on the PK either during extended kills or when one of his usual top four choices (Travis Zajac,A Blake Coleman,A Pavel ZachaA andA Brian Boyle) are unavailable. While hea€™s not Hall-esque in controlling games, hea€™s shown enough flashes of brilliance to believe he could travel that path.

The Devils may have an impact defender in the pipeline inA Ty Smith; even with his success in juniors, it is still too early to say whether he will be impactful, serviceable, or even possibly underwhelming at the NHL level. Again, based off of his play to this point in time and his draft pedigree, he should at least be serviceable, but he is currently an unknown quantity, as is the problem with most draft choices.

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