Ruff naturally spent plenty of time talking about the Devils and had plenty of interesting things to say. I want to touch on some of the notables.
• Ruff talked about the Devils’ goaltending struggles early last season. While he praised Mackenzie Blackwood for his play – especially in the 2nd half – he made it known he thinks the modern NHL is a two goaltender league. Reading between the lines, Ruff isn’t going to overwork Blackwood and give him 60 starts. I don’t think it is a stretch to say the Devils don’t have anybody in the organization capable of giving the Devils ~25-30 quality appearances on Blackwood’s nights off. Whether Cory Schneider is bought out or not – the Devils can afford to eat his money for another year to ease the burden long-term – it seems fair to assume he won’t enter the season as the Devils No. 2 netminder. Finding a reliable backup was probably a priority to begin with and Ruff pushing for that should only add urgency.
• With regards to naming a new captain, Ruff unsurprisingly wants to get to know personnel before making a decision. He did note that he will rely heavily on the input of those previously with the organization to get a better idea of what he’s working with. I think Nico Hischier is the obvious candidate and should get the ‘C’. He has all the qualities you want in a captain and he’s locked up long-term. He can grow with the team and lead the young core. Travis Zajac and Kyle Palmieri are the only other realistic options but both have only one year left and may not be with the team much longer. Give it to Nico.
• Ruff was asked about the narrative that you can’t have 5’10’ guys (like Jack Hughes) playing center. He pushed back on that, citing the success he had with the Buffalo Sabres using Danny Briere (5’10’), Chris Drury (5’10’) and Derek Roy (5’8’) down the middle on a nightly basis. Hughes will stay down the middle. That’s the big takeaway, of course, but I also think it means Ruff wouldn’t hesitate to use 5’9’ Quad God Marco Rossi at center if the Devils were to draft him.
Here's a look at a 17-year-old, 5'9 170lbs Marco Rossi up against 6'5 209lbs Serron Noel.