Setting the table for the New Jersey Devils' 2018 off-season
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The 2017-18 season is officially in the books for the New Jersey Devils.
While getting put out by Tampa Bay in five games is somewhat disappointing, although not surprising, it's hard not to be thrilled with the year the team had. There were an overwhelming amount of positives.
Taylor Hall upped his game and was perhaps the most valuable player in the league. Nico Hischier had an excellent rookie season and looks like he'll be a superstar sooner than later. Will Butcher was one of the better power play quarterbacks in the league. Jesper Bratt produced at a near 40 point pace a year after being chosen in the 6th round. Miles Wood scored at a 20 goal pace. Sami Vatanen showed he can handle big minutes in all situations. And that doesn't even cover everything.
Suffice to say, there's reason to be excited about the team moving forward. Some work still remains, though.
The Devils would benefit from more secondary scoring to provide Hall some help. Young, developing players go through rough patches and when that happened, Hall didn't have much support. They also definitely need another top-4 defenseman – preferably on the left side – before they're really ready to make noise in the playoffs.
The good news is GM Ray Shero has almost $20 million in cap space, and a solid prospect pool he could dip into if necessary, to address some of those issues.
After the game John Hynes said the team can be proud, but not satisfied, with the year they had. The same holds true for Shero and the roster he has assembled.
Five observations from Game 4
Five observations from Game 3
Five observations from Game 2
Five observations from Game 1
Eastern Conference playoff predictions: Round 1
Western Conference playoff predictions: Round 1