Devils looking to build off 1st playoff berth since 2011-12
NEW JERSEY DEVILS
LAST SEASON: 44-29-9, 97 points. Fifth in Metropolitan Division. Lost to Tampa Bay Lightning in first round of Eastern Conference playoffs.
COACH: John Hynes (fourth season).
ADDED: D Eric Gryba, D Egor Yakovlev.
LOST: F Patrick Maroon, D John Moore, F Brian Gibbons, F Michael Grabner, F Jimmy Hayes.
PLAYER TO WATCH: Taylor Hall. Won NHL MVP in breakout season. Had team highs of 39 goals, 54 assists and 93 points, 41 points more than closest teammate. Led Devils to playoffs for first time since 2011-12. Developed great chemistry with No. 1 overall draft pick Nico Hischier. Added two goals and four assists in playoffs. Had offseason surgery on torn ligaments in left hand. Needs to be just as good.
OUTLOOK: Devils didn’t change much. They believe there is a good mixture of rising stars in Hall and Hischier and solid role players in Marcus Johansson, Kyle Palmieri and Miles Wood. The question remains the defense and goaltending. Keith Kinkaid replaced Cory Schneider as No. 1 in second half of season but struggled in postseason. Hip may keep Schneider out for start of season. Andy Greene and Sami Vatanen are top defenders. Will Butcher needs to repeat surprising rookie season. Youngsters John Quenneville and Nick Lappin may make the jump from AHL.