It’s 20 games into the inaugural BEARD Hockey season, so it’s time to had out the New Jersey Devils’ player report cards.
(Editor Note: This photo accompanying Corey's article submission was just too funny not to use. :P )
Center – Jonathan Toews – Grade = A GP = 20, G = 5, A = 16, P = 21, +/- = +3, PIM = 8
After starting the season slow, Jonathan Toews has been putting up points as of late, becoming a point per game player. If he keeps this pace, he will have a career season. His career high season was in 2018, where he notched 35 goals, 46 points for 81 points in 82 games.
Left Wing – Brad Marchand – Grade = D GP = 20, G = 9, A = 3, P = 12, +/- = -6, PIM = 20
Brad Marchand is another player who started the season slow, and who has started to get some production in the last few games. He is on the verge of being in coach John Tortorella’s dog house though. This is poor production by Brad’s standards, and has not been himself with New Jersey so far. This team needs his production, if they want to have a chance of making it out of the first round in the playoffs.
Right Wing – Justin Williams – Grade = C GP = 20, G = 3, A = 7, P = 10, +/- = 5, PIM = 2
Mr. Game 7 hasn’t lived up to expectations thus far in New Jersey. While his production isn’t far off his normal career totals, he hasn’t been able to score a single power play goal this year. He’s bounced around on different lines with different line-mates but hasn’t really found the success that the team had hoped.
Center - Ryan Nugent-Hopkins – Grade = B GP = 6, G = 6, A = 9, P = 15, +/- = -3, PIM = 4
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins has been solid, and a little under his recent NHL production this season in New Jersey. At one point, he even displaced Jonathan Toews on the top line. If it wasn’t for his secondary scoring, the Devils would be in big trouble. With being an UFA after this season, it will be interesting to see what his future will hold after extension talks begin later this season, especially with the Devils being a cap team.
Left Wing - Ilya Mikheyev – Grade = A GP = 20, G = 10, A = 7, P = 17, +/- = +7, PIM = 0
Ilya Mikheyev is having a breakout year, and is one of the young future stars. GM Chernuka has fielded a lot of interest in young Mikheyev but has been adamant that he is staying in New Jersey. You have to think that if the Devils can’t resign Nugent-Hopkins, that they think about running Mikheyev as the second line center next year.
Right Wing - Oliver Bjorkstrand – Grade = D GP = 20, G = 3, A = 4, P = 7, +/- = -4, PIM = 0 Oliver Bjorkstrand started the season on the top line, but with lack of production has bounced around the lineup. He’s been publicly criticized by Head Coach John Tortorella. You have to wonder if he won’t end up as trade bait if his offensive struggles continue. How patient will New Jersey be with this 25 year old?
Center – Nick Bonino – Grade = A GP = 20, G = 2, A = 9, P = 11, +/- =4, PIM = 0
Nick Bonino has been a rock defensively for New Jersey, and on the penalty kill. He has also chipped in offensively. Nick has met and exceeded expectations in New Jersey.
Left Wing – Andrew Copp – Grade = A GP = 20, G = 2, A = 4, P = 10, +/- = +5, PIM = 0
Andrew Copp has posted career numbers in largely a defensive role with the New Jersey Devils, seeing ice-time mainly on the third line and on the penalty kill.
Right Wing - Robby Fabbri – Grade = B GP = 20, G = 6, A = 5, P = 11, +/- = +1, PIM = 0
Robbi Fabbri has had a decent year offensively, given that most of his time has been on the third or fourth line. He has earned the trust of Head Coach John Tortorella, with his hard work ethic, and has been rewarded with some spot duty on the second power play unit. If Fabbri’s stock continues to rise and Bjorkstrand’s stock continues to fall, maybe Fabbri gets a shot on one of the top two lines.
Center - Mikko Koivu – Grade = C GP = 20, G = 5, A = 6, P = 11, +/- = -1, PIM = 4
Mikko Koivu is in the twilight of his career, and is trying to adjust to a new role, being more of a defensive center, with penalty kill time. Its clear that he still wants to lean towards offense, rather than defense. But being behind Toews, Nugent-Hopkins and Bonino at center, that opportunity won’t happen with the Devils, unless the injury bug strikes. If the team and Koivu can’t find that balance, then a trade may be necessary.
Left Wing – Matt Calvert – Grade = B GP = 20, G = 5, A = 5, P = 10, +/- = 0, PIM = 0
Matt Calvert has provided some complimentary offense and been solid defensively on the 4th line. He has been underwhelming on the penalty kill, helping the New Jersey Devils post 75% PK percentage (4th worst in the league).
Right Wing – Frans Nielsen – Grade = NA GP = 1, G = 0, A = 0, P = 0, +/- = 0, PIM = 0
Frans Nielsen was recently acquired from LA, in the deal that sent Jay Beagle and Fredrik Claesson to the Kings for Nielsen and Jason Demers. Its not know where speedster Frans Nielsen will fit in on the Devils. It’s a solid bet he will get some 3rd and 4th line time and see what happens.
Defence - Mattias Ekholm – Grade = C GP = 20, G = 1, A = 3, P = 4, +/- = -5, PIM = 8, AMG = 23.65
Mattias Ekholm isn’t known for his offense, but is having a reasonable year compared to his previous seasons offensively. Defensively, Trouba and Ekholm have not done well defensively. The pair has logged big minutes so far this season. Expect the additions of Jason Demers and Justin Holl to split this pair up and provide more options for Head Coach John Tortorella moving forward.
Defense – Jacob Trouba – Grade = D GP = 20, G = 1, A = 5, P = 6, +/- = -3, PIM = 10, AMG = 23.48
Jacob Trouba, like his defensive partner, Matthias Ekholm, has struggled so far this season. The New Jersey Devils expected both more offense and better defense than what has been provided so far. With the new additions on defense, expect Trouba to find a new defensive partner soon.
Defense – Jason Demers – Grade = NA GP = 1, G = 0, A = 0, P = 0, +/- = +2, PIM = 0, AMG = 16:53
Jason Demers is already on his third team, 20 games into the Beard Hockey season, staring in Florida, then moving to LA, and finally to New Jersey. While he had trouble sticking with the other clubs and had racked up his frequent flyer miles, expect him to solidify a permanent role with the Devils.
Defense – Kris Russell – Grade = A GP = 20, G = 0, A = 4, P = 4, +/- = +12, PIM = 4, AMG = 16.67
Kris Russell is not known for his offense, so its no surprise that he has only 4 assists on the season. The big surprise is a plus minus of +12, tops on the team by a long shot. Expect Kris to earn some extra ice-time on the PK as a result of his good performance so far this season.
Defense – Ethan Bear – Grade = B GP = 20, G = 1, A = 8, P = 9, +/- = -3, PIM = 8
Ethan Bear has had a quality offensive season so far for the New Jersey Devils, even getting some time on the power play after Jacob Trouba failed miserably in that role. Despite the offense, Ethan needs to work towards having a more balanced game defensively.
Defense – Justin Holl – Grade = NA (No NJ stats yet)
Justin Holl was acquired recently from the Colorado Avalanche for defenseman Matt Irwin, a 4th pick in 2022 and prospect Justin Sourdif. Justin had been passed on the depth charts in Colorado, but expect him to solidify a full time role in New Jersey in the top 6.
Goalie – Darcy Kuemper – Grade = B GP = 14, W = 10, L = 3, OTL = 1, SPCT = 0.919, SO = 0, GAA = 2.62
Darcy Kuemper has been largely as advertised so far this season for the New Jersey Devils. Sporting a 91.9 save percentage and only 3 regulation losses, he’s done everything expected of him. He has been near the top of the league in stats but not quite good enough to be in the Vezina conversations.
Goalie – Jake Allen – Grade = A GP = 2, W = 0, L = 0, OTL = 2, SPCT = 0.941, SO = 0, GAA = 1.85
Despite the small sample size, Jake Allen has been a welcome addition over his predecessor, Aaron Dell, in the backup role for the New Jersey Devils. Even though both of his starts ended in an overtime loss, his save percentage and goals against average have been phenomenal. It appears that the Devils have fully addressed their backup goalie position.