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SMantzas

Can the Devils Make the Playoffs in 17-18?

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SMantzas    285

The obvious answer is, of course not. We were one point away from being the 2nd worst in the league and had one of the worst goal differentials. However, a AATJ article that recently dropped indicated that maybe the defense wasn't quite as bad as it seems. Here is the link for anyone interested: https://www.allaboutthejersey.com/2017/8/9/16111554/the-devils-dont-need-to-improve-on-defense-to-be-good-in-2017-18

Baring a major move on defense, NJ's top 6 will look something like this:

Greene-Severson

Moore-Santini

Mueller-Lovejoy

I don't have to tell you that it's pretty damn bad. The only guy who can move the puck with any consistency is Severson and while Moore certainly has offensive ability, he is beyond putrid in our zone. Greene is still a top 4 dman, but he has taken a step back. Lovejoy is pretty bad and was overplayed and who knows what Mueller is?

Now let's take a glance at the forwards (combos subject to change). Boy does NJ need a rw or two.

Hall-Zajac-Palmieri

Zacha-Hischier-Johansson

Quenneville-Henrique-McLeod

Wood-Boyle-Noeson

Certainly looks to be much improved, though Zacha, McLeod, Hischier, Wood and Quenneville have a combined ~150 games of NHL experience.

Here's a list of what I think has to happen in order for us to make things interesting:

1. Schneider returns to form. I actually think this is pretty likely in terms of happening. Schneider at .920-.925 will likely save at least 25-30 goals. He's been around there for his whole career and although he didn't have much help last season, he certainly didn't play up to his ability.

2. Hall has a better season. He certainly wasn't bad last season by any means, but he and his line can certainly execute their chances better. A 10-15 point increase for Taylor would be a big deal.

3. Hischier and Johansson score ~45 points each. I expect a decline in Johansson's point totals as last year he enjoyed good shooting fortune and NJ is obviously a much worse offensive team. But solid second line numbers from he and Nico makes our team that much deeper.

4. Zacha needs to take a step forward to top 6 level. Zacha hitting 40 points and hitting 150 shots adds another weapon.

5. Santini has to be ready to play ahead of Lovejoy. Santini was pretty good last year and I think they did a good job of easing him in and not throwing him to the wolves in a nothing season. However, Lovejoy averaged the second most TOI for dmen behind Greene and he was a disaster. I'm not fan of LJ, but I think he can survive against weaker comp and less ice time, i.e. third pair. Santini has to be able to handle 19-21 minutes this year, in order for this to happen.

Of course, all of this happening will probably not come to fruition, but these are very realistic objectives. I dont think many people are expecting playoffs, but this team has the tools to be in most games.

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I think they're going to surprise a bit, but I'm just not sure that they'll be able to do that over 82 games.  Depending on how Schneider's playing, I can see them being in the playoff hunt as late as February...if Schneider has one of his .920+ years, and some other "if" scenarios are satisfied, I can see the Devils racking up 84 points or so.  Anything beyond that just seems unrealistic.

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CommonDreads    400

Do I think they will? No, but can they? I think it's possible, I mean really think of the model that Toronto had this past season that they rode to a playoff berth – high caliber youth up front, below average defense, and a goalie that can make up for their defensive misgivings. If Cory is back above .920 and the likes of Hischier, Zacha, and Speers all produce at good levels, I think we can at least be playing meaningful games in March.

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Jerzey    183

As much as I understand the point of not putting a rookie on the top line, keeping Zajac with Hall and Palmieri is going to handicap their capabilities. I know it's an unpopular opinion amongst Devils fans but that's how I feel.

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aylbert    63
Posted (edited)

This team through Thanksgiving was on pace for 99 points; which would have put them ahead of the Maple Leafs for the last spot.  We only won three games after February...

We are by no means a Stanley Cup favorite; but we are getting younger and faster; while our younger guys gained valuable experience.      It will depend on momentum; but our point standing reflects just how bad we tanked (intentional or not) at the end of the year.   We will be a young team, and thus, will be streaky.   It should be interesting.    

We are a team capable of being in the wildcard hunt.

Edited by aylbert
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mfitz804    1,318

The offense would seem to be improved, I am not sure how significantly. 

The defense is a giant question mark. 

Schneider needs to return to form. 

It could happen, I am not counting on it, but maybe they'll play better without all of those extra jersey stripes weighing them down. 

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nessus    65

I agree with what you said, but I think it is very unlikely that the Devils are anywhere near the playoffs this year. IMO, the offense won't be good enough to pick up the slack of having an awful defense. Even if the Devils follow the Toronto model, Toronto had 6 players ahead of our top scorer (who had 53 points). And even then, they were the last team to sneak into the playoffs, beating out a couple other teams by a point or two.

Plus, there are just way too many question marks on this team right now, as you mentioned. Nico might take a season or two before he blossoms at the NHL level. I believe that Zacha will have a huge year, but that's far from a sure thing. We still don't know much about Mueller; and if Santini is given a bigger role, how will he handle that? McLeod certainly has a good shot of being with the NHL this year, and he's got a bright future ahead of him, but I wouldn't fully count on him being on the roster all year. IMO, all of these things need to go our way, in a big way, before we can even think of the playoffs as a realistic possibility. And that's not even taking Cory's performance into account.

I really think that Shero needs to make a move for D somehow, because I can't see this team having much real success until Lovejoy and Moore are no longer dragging the team down. The 2018 draft should help, but likely not for a few years, especially if the BPA in the first round is a forward. 

There aren't that many teams that would make for good trade partners, but Carolina could be the one. They've got a really good D group, with Faulk, Hanifin, Pesce, and Slavin. They also just added Trevor van Riemsdyk. All of these young D don't leave much space for some of the talent in their pipeline. Shero could give Haydn Fleury and Jake Bean a look. Neither has had time in the NHL yet, but both are highly regarded prospects. With all the assets at forward, Shero really could definitely make something happen. Both of these players have the potential to be what we need on defense.  We have the assets to make this happen, between picks, prospects, and potentially a roster player; but the cost might be too high.

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titans04    60

No,  just hoping to see some significant progress from the young guys.

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Daniel    349
4 hours ago, MadDog2020 said:

Articles like this piece of sh!t piss me off... 'Hellishly bleak?' Suck my fvcking d*ck. http://www.thehockeynews.com/news/article/2020-vision-what-the-new-jersey-devils-roster-will-look-like-in-three-years


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

The Hockey News, and really most stuff out of Canada, is completely useless when it comes to analysis about non-Canadian and non-Original six teams.  Case and point is as follows, if it hasn't been mentioned here: on NHL Radio on Sirius XM, based out of Canada, they were doing GM grades, and Shero got a C, and said that the shallowness on defense is a huge problem for the team.   Very fair point.  But then they say, in talking about letting Merrill go to Vegas that "he scored a bunch of goals for them last year."  As Merrill scored one goal, using the plural goals is literally untrue, in addition to being an absurd notion in itself.  Basically, you have nothing intelligent to say about a team if fvck up something like that.

As to the making the playoffs, not going to happen primarily based on how good the division and conference is.  So the best we can hope for is he Devils playing meaningful games up until late March, and we have something like the Baby Bombers to look forward to for the next year.

Hell, maybe my conspiracy theory about Bettman periodically making good thing happen for the Devils in exchange for letting the Rags win in 1994, will result in the Devils winning the lottery again this year, but off of not a dreadful season.  

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Marshall    174
Posted (edited)

Possible but unlikely. 

The AATJ article points out that the Devils' defense is good defensively. Yeah, they are, but hockey is a game of what you create vs what you give up. If you look at total GAR, the Devils top 7 D rank 41 (Severson), 71 (Greene), 78 (Lovejoy), 120 (Merrill), 137 (Moore), 189 (Auvitu), 194 (Mueller). If you go by 30's (top 30 = #1 dman, 31-60 #2 dman etc), NJ has one #2, two #3, one #4, one #5 and then #7 dmen.  It's not putrid when you look at it that way, but much like the forwards you lack high end and solid depth. Looking at Sznajder's zone exit data, Devils had two dmen over 50% in zone exits. That is indeed putrid and where they need to improve if they want to make the playoffs. 

Edit: forgot Santini, he ranked between Moore and Auvitu.

Edited by Marshall

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SMantzas    285
3 hours ago, Marshall said:

Possible but unlikely. 

The AATJ article points out that the Devils' defense is good defensively. Yeah, they are, but hockey is a game of what you create vs what you give up. If you look at total GAR, the Devils top 7 D rank 41 (Severson), 71 (Greene), 78 (Lovejoy), 120 (Merrill), 137 (Moore), 189 (Auvitu), 194 (Mueller). If you go by 30's (top 30 = #1 dman, 31-60 #2 dman etc), NJ has one #2, two #3, one #4, one #5 and then #7 dmen.  It's not putrid when you look at it that way, but much like the forwards you lack high end and solid depth. Looking at Sznajder's zone exit data, Devils had two dmen over 50% in zone exits. That is indeed putrid and where they need to improve if they want to make the playoffs. 

Edit: forgot Santini, he ranked between Moore and Auvitu.

What does Lovejoy do well that puts him at #78?

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Anything is "possible" but I would call it highly improbable that the Devils make the playoffs.  While the youth up front is exciting, you really have no idea how long it will take to translate and mature.  The defense is bad.  Even in a magical scenario where Santini and Mueller suddenly eat more meaningful minutes and prove they are top-4 D, the club is using Greene way too much, Lovejoy way too much, etc.  Still don't understand why we don't in the least sign Franson and create a competition for the 6th spot between Moore, Lovejoy, Mueller, depending on who is playing the best and can handle it on any given night.  We literally have no clue what Mueller can do at this point.  In days past, this organization was fine with 8-9 NHL defenders competing for jobs.  Some package of Henrique for Vatananen also makes a lot of sense, but I understand trades don't happen overnight and are difficult to pull off.  At any rate, answering the question: I think we should brace for a difficult season and if we're surprised, we will be grateful.

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Martyisth3b3st    1,174
3 hours ago, Marshall said:

Possible but unlikely. 

The AATJ article points out that the Devils' defense is good defensively. Yeah, they are, but hockey is a game of what you create vs what you give up. If you look at total GAR, the Devils top 7 D rank 41 (Severson), 71 (Greene), 78 (Lovejoy), 120 (Merrill), 137 (Moore), 189 (Auvitu), 194 (Mueller). If you go by 30's (top 30 = #1 dman, 31-60 #2 dman etc), NJ has one #2, two #3, one #4, one #5 and then #7 dmen.  It's not putrid when you look at it that way, but much like the forwards you lack high end and solid depth. Looking at Sznajder's zone exit data, Devils had two dmen over 50% in zone exits. That is indeed putrid and where they need to improve if they want to make the playoffs. 

Edit: forgot Santini, he ranked between Moore and Auvitu.

Neither Merrill nor Auvitu are on the team next year.

I am in the camp of "eternal" optimist. Until I've seen them play 15 games, I have no reason to doubt they'll be in the playoffs. I think Nico is an immediate 40-point player, McLeod will impress a ton of people, Zacha will break out, and Schneider will bounce back. And if 3 of those 4 things happen, this is a playoff team.

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NJDfan1711    199

I'm trying to set my expectations rather low, though I'm somewhat hopeful based on a few key things that happened in the last several months (Hirschier, Johannson, etc).  

As a Devils fan, there have been very few occasions where I thought we actually took steps backwards in the offseason, and I also think I'm just naturally an optimist, so when a new season begins I am always projecting that we will have improved over the previous one, even if it's only by a little bit.  This year, I don't think it's unrealistic for us to be competing for a playoff spot and possibly squeak in, provided that a lot of the things that have already been discussed actually go in our favor, but I would not at all be surprised, or even that disappointed, to see us just miss out again later on in the year.  

Here's hoping we can get back into the playoffs where we belong.  

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Daniel    349
3 hours ago, Marshall said:

Possible but unlikely. 

The AATJ article points out that the Devils' defense is good defensively. Yeah, they are, but hockey is a game of what you create vs what you give up. If you look at total GAR, the Devils top 7 D rank 41 (Severson), 71 (Greene), 78 (Lovejoy), 120 (Merrill), 137 (Moore), 189 (Auvitu), 194 (Mueller). If you go by 30's (top 30 = #1 dman, 31-60 #2 dman etc), NJ has one #2, two #3, one #4, one #5 and then #7 dmen.  It's not putrid when you look at it that way, but much like the forwards you lack high end and solid depth. Looking at Sznajder's zone exit data, Devils had two dmen over 50% in zone exits. That is indeed putrid and where they need to improve if they want to make the playoffs. 

Edit: forgot Santini, he ranked between Moore and Auvitu.

Is goals above replacement even a legitimate or comprehensible stat, especially if we're talking about defenseman who don't help produce goals in any significant way like Lovejoy?  I tried to find an explanation as to how it's calculated could only find one place that kind of showed how it's done, but it was very long and tedious and really seems like paralysis by analysis.  I'm very skeptical of those silver bullet theory of everything stats especially for a sport like hockey.

The one thing you can say about the defense is that maybe they don't have to be anything great or even above average for the Devils to play meaningful hockey throughout the season.  It's maybe a 50/50 proposition as to whether this year's defensemen are worse or that much worse that 2011-2012.  And that year, the goaltending in the regular season wasn't that great, at least based on save percentage.  I think everyone's assumption is that Cory has to get back to .920+ for the team to be competitive.

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Devilsfan118    641
17 hours ago, MadDog2020 said:

Articles like this piece of sh!t piss me off... 'Hellishly bleak?' Suck my fvcking d*ck. http://www.thehockeynews.com/news/article/2020-vision-what-the-new-jersey-devils-roster-will-look-like-in-three-years


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

THN is still a thing?

I thought that rag would've gone out of business by now.

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Marshall    174

 

1 hour ago, Daniel said:

Is goals above replacement even a legitimate or comprehensible stat, especially if we're talking about defenseman who don't help produce goals in any significant way like Lovejoy?  I tried to find an explanation as to how it's calculated could only find one place that kind of showed how it's done, but it was very long and tedious and really seems like paralysis by analysis.  I'm very skeptical of those silver bullet theory of everything stats especially for a sport like hockey.

The one thing you can say about the defense is that maybe they don't have to be anything great or even above average for the Devils to play meaningful hockey throughout the season.  It's maybe a 50/50 proposition as to whether this year's defensemen are worse or that much worse that 2011-2012.  And that year, the goaltending in the regular season wasn't that great, at least based on save percentage.  I think everyone's assumption is that Cory has to get back to .920+ for the team to be competitive.

Here's the final part of the write-up: https://hockey-graphs.com/2016/10/28/testing-and-final-remarks/#more-12725 You can backtrack from there. It's comprehensive and exhausting, yes, but it has to be. It's not the Silver Bullet or Everything - but it's better than doing the model in your head (ie looking at a bunch of stats and weighing them yourself). 

When I look at that write-up (the AATJ one), what I take from that is that NJ needs a real top tier performer, either on D or F and a bounce-back season from Schneider to really have a shot. 

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Marshall    174
2 hours ago, SMantzas said:

What does Lovejoy do well that puts him at #78?

Defense.

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1 hour ago, Martyisth3b3st said:

Neither Merrill nor Auvitu are on the team next year.

I am in the camp of "eternal" optimist. Until I've seen them play 15 games, I have no reason to doubt they'll be in the playoffs. I think Nico is an immediate 40-point player, McLeod will impress a ton of people, Zacha will break out, and Schneider will bounce back. And if 3 of those 4 things happen, this is a playoff team.

Great to be optimistic.  The Devils have certainly made some improvements.  Hischier & Johansson of note.  But they also lost Merrill, a guy who was okay last year and performed better than our other D-men.  And the defense was an issue going into last season.  Now it's an even bigger issue.  Coupled with an ultracompetitive Metro division (that's the real thing to look at - how often we play these monster teams with stacked, experienced lineups), and yes, it's good to retain the optimism, but don't be shocked if the Devils finish bottom 5 again.  Everyone is also banking heavily on Schneider returning to form.  I agree that he will be much better, but what if he's only a 915 goalie this year?  So, we shall see. 

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Martyisth3b3st    1,174
5 hours ago, Sharifijanov2099 said:

Great to be optimistic.  The Devils have certainly made some improvements.  Hischier & Johansson of note.  But they also lost Merrill, a guy who was okay last year and performed better than our other D-men.  And the defense was an issue going into last season.  Now it's an even bigger issue.  Coupled with an ultracompetitive Metro division (that's the real thing to look at - how often we play these monster teams with stacked, experienced lineups), and yes, it's good to retain the optimism, but don't be shocked if the Devils finish bottom 5 again.  Everyone is also banking heavily on Schneider returning to form.  I agree that he will be much better, but what if he's only a 915 goalie this year?  So, we shall see. 

I will be shocked if the Devils finish bottom five. I will be unbelievably, jaw-droppingly shocked if last year's team, +Hischier, +McLeod, +1 year to Zacha, +1 year to Santini, +Marcus Johansson, and +Bryan Boyle finishes next year in the same place as we finished last year. If Mueller isn't at least as-good as Merrill, we'll have major issues. But I do not think those are big shoes to fill. 

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Nah, Dude. Metro is still to strong. A combination of the Devils improving and other teams sliding will get us a playoff shot, but I don't see that until teams like PITT, NYR, WSH etc, start to cool off. With those three right now, you've only got 1 or 2 spots and CBJ and PHI are still better than us.

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EdgeControl    169

It will take time for these kids to gel together,  so we may dig too deep a hole to climb out of. Greene needs a strong year with big minutes.  Just keep improving each month. And support this youth movement. I think we,re on schedule now.

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Marshall    174
9 hours ago, Martyisth3b3st said:

I will be shocked if the Devils finish bottom five. I will be unbelievably, jaw-droppingly shocked if last year's team, +Hischier, +McLeod, +1 year to Zacha, +1 year to Santini, +Marcus Johansson, and +Bryan Boyle finishes next year in the same place as we finished last year. If Mueller isn't at least as-good as Merrill, we'll have major issues. But I do not think those are big shoes to fill. 

If you just look at the +, yeah, but it's also about the guys they're replacing. Some guys won't have as good seasons (as last year) or take a step back. Zajac had a very good year, but he's also 32 now. He might not be as good. Greene definitely took a step back last year and might do it again...Schneider is a question mark. What if Kinkaid doesn't have as good a season as last year? And then there's the Metro being pretty stacked. 

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