NEW JERSEY DEVILS
LAST SEASON: 28-40-14, 70 points. Last in the Eastern Conference. Missed playoffs for the fifth straight year.
COACH: John Hynes (third season, third NHL season).
ADDED: No. 1 overall draft pick C Nico Hischier, F Marcus Johansson, D Will Butcher, F Drew Stafford, F Brian Boyle, F Jimmy Hayes, D Mirco Mueller
LOST: F Mike Cammalleri, F Devante Smith-Pelly, F Beau Bennett, F Jacob Josefson, D Johann Auvitu, D Jon Merrill, D Seth Helgeson, D Karl Stollery.
PLAYER TO WATCH: While Hischier isn’t considered a franchise maker like recent top picks Connor McDavid of Edmonton and Auston Matthews of Toronto, the 18-year-old has all the tools. He can skate, score and he will make the Devils better.
OUTLOOK: Has to be better than last season, the Devils’ worst in almost 30 years. New Jersey still lacks the talent and scoring ability needed to snap its five-year playoff drought. They do have the ability to make opponents work for points. Goaltender Cory Schneider needs to rebound after a bad season. Butcher, the Hobey Baker award winner who signed with New Jersey as a free agent, might give Hynes a good-skating, two-way solid defenseman. Concern at center with status of Travis Zajac (pectoral surgery) and Brian Boyle (cancer treatment) uncertain.
More AP NHL: https://apnews.com/tag/NHLhockey