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On Taylor Hall, Nico Hischier, and balancing ice time up front

August 27, 2018, 12:44 PM ET [6 Comments]
Todd Cordell
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Looking through last season's numbers, one thing that really stands out is how John Hynes deployed the forwards.

Taylor Hall received all the ice he could handle at 5v5. They wanted him out there as much as possible – rightfully so. Beyond that, Hynes made a legitimate effort to roll four lines and distribute minutes evenly.

Note: screenshot pulled from NaturalStatTrick.com

Among those who dressed on a nightly basis, Hall was the only forward to average more than 13 minutes. Brian Boyle was the only forward to average fewer than 11.

Compare that to the Stanley Cup-winning Washington Capitals. They had three forwards average more than 14 minutes (Alex Ovechkin, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Nicklas Backstrom), two more average over 13 minutes (Tom Wilson, T.J. Oshie) and four regulars averaged fewer than the 10:31 Boyle was given on a nightly basis.

I'm not saying the Devils were wrong to spread the ice around. They don't have as much star power as a team like the Capitals and perhaps balancing the minutes is part of the reason they successfully played at the pace they did. It's just interesting that the gap in ice time between Hall and Palmieri was bigger than the gap between Palmieri and Brian Gibbons, for example.

Given the Devils are returning a lot of the same forwards, and they didn't make any notable additions this summer, it's probably safe to say they'll go with a similar approach next season.

Hischier will get more ice – Hynes has already said as much – but I wouldn't expect much to change beyond that.

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