New Jersey Devils: Who should play right wing on the reloaded power play?

Nico Hischier, New Jersey Devils. (Photo by Adam Hunger/Getty Images)
Nico Hischier, New Jersey Devils. (Photo by Adam Hunger/Getty Images) /

After accomplishing huge upgrades this offseason, the New Jersey Devils power-play unit is a force to be reckoned with, but who should be the final piece to the puzzle?

General Manager Ray Shero has overachieved this offseason in his project to give the New Jersey Devils a fresh coat of paint. A laundry list of key acquisitions is set to be difference makers in this lineup come October. The Devils are on a mission to go from last place in the Metropolitan Division in 2018-19 back to a competitive team, among the NHL’s top competitors.

Headlining the revamp are the obvious: This year’s number one overall pick in the draft, Jack Hughes, the speedy and dynamic offensive sensation. Then, there is the pace-changing explosive defenseman, P.K. Subban. Shero got him from Nashville by dealing Steven Santani, Jeremy Davies and two future second-rounders.

Following that, the GM locked up two more marquee names with the hard-nosed veteran, Wayne Simmonds and KHL superstar/former Vegas draft pick, Nikita Gusev. The latter was acquired through trade with Vegas after a competitive bidding war.

Along with former league MVP, Taylor Hall and the budding super talent, Nico Hischier, New Jersey Devils head coach John Hynes has some neat toys to play with as he decides who is on the first power-play unit. Four of the five roles are guaranteed. Hall will play left wing alongside center Hughes, while Hischier will accompany Subban, the “quarterback” defenseman at the point.

This leaves the last spot up for grabs. The competition is between sophomore Jesper Bratt, former all-star in Kyle Palmieri and Simmonds to slide in as the fifth piece of this potent man-advantage.

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Of the three, Simmonds would be the best choice. He’s a pest, specifically in front of goaltenders The right wing could add a gritty offensive element to this quintet. Simmonds went 5-3-8 on the power play in 79 games last season, which was seventh on Philadelphia.

But the New Jersey Devils don’t need him to lead the pack with points. It’s more about getting the tough goals when it suits them best. Simmonds has a strong shot and uses his big 6-2 frame all over the ice. He is a luxury for a power-play unit.

I’m sure Palmieri will see some time on the top unit as he is probably the more skilled of the two, but again, this is more about the role to bring to the other four as opposed to skill. Bratt also had eight points on the power play last season, but with Hughes and Hischier already young and skilled small forwards on the unit, it’s best to save him for the second power-play unit.

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If there’s one thing to say for sure, this team should bring the NHL some surprises this year with a lineup that fits today’s NHL formula to compete. Lot’s of youth, speed, skill, and most importantly, role diversity.