The Devils are a pathetic disappointment and we have another year to fantasize about “The Future”…
Six consecutive losses. Nine losses in the last 10 games, and a 15-25-5 record on the season. Dead last in the metro, 28th in the NHL and just like almost every other year for the last decade, a total joke and embarrassment of an organization. There isn’t much to say that hasn’t already been said 10,000 times already this season. The goaltending, the power play, the finishing, the coaching, everything this team does is terrible. So terrible in fact that the Devils Daily podcast from Devils Insiders (which I have no involvement with) have decided to stop talking about the current Devils pain all together and relive pain from the past instead. I think it’s a good idea and we all know that the Devils have provided plenty of material for that. However, here are some positive Devils related updates that don’t involve the current Devils roster.
Alexander Holtz, the seventh overall pick in the 2020 draft, continues to light up the American Hockey League. He has 12 goals and 13 assists in 22 AHL games. Holtz was also selected as the AHL rookie of the month for January 2022, a month in which he put up 13 points in 10 games. The fan base is currently split on what should be done with Holtz for the remainder of the season. Some people want him called up and put a line with Hughes or Hischier. The argument there is that Holtz has already proven to be good enough to dominate the AHL and is ready to step into the NHL full time. Essentially, he has already developed in the AHL as much as he can and the only way for him to continue to get better is to play against better competition. While the logic there is sound, I disagree. I think that bringing a young player like Holtz into this locker room of losers, to be coached by a staff of losers, to play out a lost season in front of sparse and frustrated home crowds is not the best idea. Currently, he is Utica, playing for the AHL’s best team in front of electric home crowds every night. I think it is best to let Holtz stay in the AHL and compete for a championship with the team he has been with most of the season. I think Holtz and his Utica teammates getting to experience a playoff run, even in the AHL, can help get them into a better, more competitive, mindset than the current NHL Devils. Hopefully Holtz and a few other Comets can bring that mindset into the NHL next season and make the Devils less painful to watch.
20 year old Arseny Gritsyuk was drafted by the Devils in the 5th round of the 2019 NHL draft. He is currently playing the KHL and has 16 goals, 12 assists (28 points) in 39 games. Gritsyuk has been impressive enough so far this season to make team Russia for the Olympics. As a comparison, Yegor Sharangovich was the Devils 5th round pick in 2018 and he had 17 goals and 25 points in 34 KHL games before joining the Devils for the 2021 NHL season. Of course, Yegor was slightly older at that time then Gritsyuk is now and Yegor had played two years in the AHL before that while Gritsyuk is yet to leave Russia. All signs, so far, are pointing towards Gritsyuk being another late round steal for the Devils along the lines of Jesper Bratt or Yegor Sharangovich. Hopefully, Holtz and Gritsyuk will earn their way into the Devils top six forward group next season and be part of the solution to the Devils goal scoring woes.
The Devils are a team that struggles to score goals, but not as badly as they struggle to keep pucks out of their own net. Goaltending has been a massive problem for the Devils this season, probably the biggest reason the Devils are as low in the standings as they are. They do not have a reliable NHL goalie. Just average goaltending would be a big upgrade over what the Devils have had this season. Part of the Utica Comets success in the AHL so far this season is the fantastic play they have had from their two main goalies, Akira Schmid and Nico Daws. Neither Daws nor Schmid has turned 22 yet and both have been very good in the AHL. Schmid is currently the Devils NHL backup and has played 11 games in the AHL. In those 11 AHL games, he has a fantastic 1.54 GAA and a .948 save percentage. His numbers in six NHL games so far have been not nearly as good. However, just last season, Schmid was in the USHL and has only played 11 AHL games so he has been asked to take a pretty massive jump. To go from facing USHL shooters to NHL shooters is a big difference, especially when your NHL teammates playing in front of you that are supposed to be helping you out are playing exceedingly poorly. Nico Daws has played 17 AHL games for the Comets and has a 2.44 GAA and a .917 save percentage. Daws has only played two NHL games for the Devils so not nearly a big enough sample to judge those numbers, but he did earn a win in one of those games. A real serious negative to the injuries to Bernier and Blackwood in the NHL is that it forces Schmid to be pressed into a backup role in the NHL instead of splitting starts with Daws in Utica. Less game action is not what a young goalie needs to develop. However, with two young goalies in the pipeline showing some promise already, its not time to lose all hope of the future of Devils goaltending just yet. We could use a reliable veteran that can actually stay on the ice though…
Hopefully at this time next year, “The Future” that the Devils fans will be thinking about will be a playoff run in April and May. However, for right now, just like the last decade, Devils fans are spending January through September waiting for October and getting our hopes up about “The (distant) Future”. Fingers crossed that next year is actually the year that this painful rebuild finally comes to an end. Maybe until then I should just blog about the Comets?
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