One model projects New Jersey Devils to take small step back in 2018-19
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With training camps set to open league-wide in just a few weeks(!), and rosters for the most part set, we can start to project how things will play out in 2018-19.
@Manny_Hockey's model, which had Washington ranked No. 1 at this time a year ago, sees the New Jersey Devils taking a small step back this season.
Last year they picked up 97 points. The model has them projected for 92.
Though the Devils are ranked 10th in the East, they only sit one projected point behind Florida/Carolina and three behind Philadelphia. It's not like they're expected to be a bottom-feeder – they were actually given a 51.7% chance of qualifying for the playoffs. I think that is very reasonable.
The Devils do have several young players who could improve but there are some problems with the roster. They weren't deep last season and they've done nothing this summer to address that. There are some question marks on defense. There is also reason to be concerned about Cory Schneider's steady decline
, be it injury related, age-related, or a mix of the two.
And, of course, the Metro is tough. Pittsburgh, Washington, and Columbus – at least while they still have Artemi Panarin – remain ahead of the Devils in the pecking order. It's not unreasonable to suggest Philadelphia and Carolina have surpassed them based on the summers they've had, either.
The New York Islanders are a disaster waiting to happen. The New York Rangers are rebuilding. Beyond those two, I'm not confident saying the Devils will finish ahead of any other Metro team.
Could they do so? Absolutely, but I think the model is right to have the rest of the group ahead – even if ever so slightly.
Devils sign Ty Smith to entry-level contract
On Taylor Hall and his chances of winning the Hart in consecutive years
On Miles Wood and his next contract
Devils sign Steven Santini to three-year extension
Nick Shore an ideal PTO target
On the Devils' defense and an optimal top-4
Power play dominance, and a little luck, behind Hall's big spike in production
The Devils should give Miles Wood an opportunity in the top-6
Damon Severson should benefit from John Moore's departure
Hynes might have found something in Coleman - Zajac - Noesen line