2019 New Jersey Devils Odds to win Stanley Cup with Expert Predictions
No awards are won during the summer in the NHL. However, if there was an award for the best offseason in the league, then the New Jersey Devils would likely be your winner. They made a whole lot of moves to overhaul a team that was really strong two years ago but was a huge disappointment last year. And though time will tell us what works out and what doesn't, at this point it's hard to find a deal that isn't easy to like. This team got significantly better. But what does it mean for bettors?
New Jersey Devils Offseason Moves
It's hard to know what to start with since there is so much to deal with. We'll start with the big trade. P.K. Subban has been wildly popular with the fans wherever he has played. And though his offensive production has slid a little, he's still a clear No. 1 defenseman. But he seems to wear his welcome out with management - he did so in Montreal and did again in Nashville, and both times he wound up being traded at what seemed to be solidly below market value. Subban has had some health issues the last couple of years, but he will likely slot into the top pairing with Will Butcher, who signed a new three-year deal this summer. And if he can stay healthy, then the upside here is significant for the team. And because they paid so relatively little to acquire the d-man, the risk is fairly low.
That wasn't the only high-profile change the team made. Last year, the squad had a really solid top line but had issues with scoring beyond that. So, they have totally overhauled the second line, and the upside is very intriguing. First, they signed Wayne Simmonds to a one-year deal. The 31-year-old winger was banged up last year, but he's not too far removed from strong offensive seasons, and he has the ability to score. Then they traded for the rights to Nikita Gusev from Vegas. He's a 27-year-old Russian winger who has a lot to prove, but he has scored more than a point per game over the last four years in the KHL. The transition from that league to this one is often a very difficult one, but the talent is clear. So, they have two intriguing offensive wingers, and they need a center. And what a center they got. For the second time in three years, the Devils had excellent draft lottery luck and wound up with the top pick. They selected Jack Hughes, the American center who is as close to a can't-miss prospect as a guy can get. He's the real deal, and having the veteran presence of Simmonds on his wing could really be valuable.
Though he wasn't a new addition to the organization, there is some new blood worth mentioning here. Ty Smith was the team's first round pick in 2018. He was the last player cut last fall and returned to the WHL, where he was a truly dominant junior player. Now he's back for another look, and he would fit very nicely in the second pairing. The team might choose to be patient with him, but he is definitely one to watch.
There were some other deals as well, but they mostly were about shuffling
the deck. The highlights have been discussed, and they are significant.
New Jersey Devils NHL Outlook
It's going to come down to how that second line experiment comes together. The potential is very significant, but all three guys have questions marks - Simmonds is older, Gusev is unproven in this league, and Hughes is young and facing immense pressure. If they can come together - or if the team can find a second scoring line that is a little different than that but still effective - then we should see some real improvement this year. The defense should be fine. And while goaltender Mackenzie Blackwood is young and largely unproven, he was very solid last year as a rookie and there is a bright future. This team has a real chance to be a playoff team if they can score.
New Jersey Devils Schedule
The Devils really ease into the season this year. They play just 10 games in October, which is on the low side. And seven of them are at home. Most notably, they play Oct. 19, are off again until Oct. 25, and then have another break until Oct. 30. They will pay for that luxurious stretch of games later on, but having more time to practice early on is nothing but a positive for a team dealing with so many changes.
New Jersey Devils NHL Futures Odds
The Devils are one of four teams tied as the 15th choice to win the Stanley Cup at +2500. They are tied with the other two teams from the New York City area as the seventh choice to win the Eastern Conference at +1200. They are tied with Philadelphia as the fifth choice to win the Metropolitan Division, though favored Washington is well within reach at +400. Their season point total is set at 90.5 with balanced action. They are -160 to make the playoffs, compared to +140 to miss them.
2019-20 New Jersey Devils Predictions
I really like what the team did, and I am very high on Hughes and what he can do this season. The team is probably still a season of three away from top level contention, but they feel far more likely to be a playoff team than not to be. The biggest challenge they have is that the Atlantic Division is so deep right now that the battle for wild card spots is going to be really intense, and teams like this one from the Metropolitan might have challenges. So, Metropolitan teams probably need to finish in the top three to really be sure of playoff contention. That feels like a viable outcome for this team.
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