Hockey News

New Jersey Devils Re-Sign Kurtis MacDermid Sends Strong Message – Hockey Writers – New Jersey Devils

On March 1, 2024, the New Jersey Devils traded forward Zakhar Bardakov and a 2024 round pick in exchange for Kurtis MacDermid, a hybrid forward/defenseman better known as “the guard.”

The 6-foot-5, 233-pound skater found himself at the center of drama in the Hudson River Rivalry with the New York Rangers, where his animosity toward Matt Rempe eventually led to a highly unusual lineout conflict.

On May 17, 2024, the Devils signed MacDermid to a three-year contract extension worth $3.45 million (average annual value of $1.15M). General manager Tom Fitzgerald had previously expressed a strong interest in bringing MacDermid back, but almost no one expected that kind of timing. Regardless of your opinion on the length of the contract, this was a clear statement from Fitzgerald & Company: While physicality in today’s game seems to be diminishing in favor of skill, such a presence is something the Devils value.

Are the Devils a A “soft” team??

The Devils are often considered “soft” by critics across the league. When you look at the numbers, it’s easy to see why. Only six of the 32 teams had fewer hits per game this season than the Devils — and without MacDermid, it would have been just four.

Kurtis MacDermid, New Jersey Devils (Jess Starr/Hockey Writers)

What stands out the most is that 14 of the 16 playoff teams were better than the Devils in that division. The only teams that scored less than the Devils and advanced to the postseason were the Carolina Hurricanes and Dallas Stars. The Hurricanes have struggled to match postseason form, playing the fewest shots per 60 (24.57) of all 16 teams. That proved to be a factor in their inability to match the New York Rangers in the second round. The Stars are the only standout, but they’re building a roster so deep, so talented that they can outrun the top teams in the world on talent alone. That’s out of the ordinary, not the norm.

Now, this doesn’t necessarily mean that uploading “enforcement” types is the answer to the Devil’s issues. But from watching their games, there is real reason to believe there is some benefit in making sure their players are protected.

Here’s an example: The Hurricanes haven’t been a “physical” team at all this season, averaging 16.69 per 60, according to Money Puck. In their three games against the Devils, they averaged 24.33 – almost a 46 percent increase! To put it simply: teams, even underground, knew they could bully the Devils because they rarely stuck together or strengthened themselves. And the Devil paid the price.

That’s why someone like MacDermid is important to policing the game and making sure teams know they won’t be disturbed. There were too many times when star players like Jack Hughes and Nico Hischier were offended or hurt, and no one retaliated with more than half-hearted shuffling.

In the Devils’ first game of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs, they showed that going out of their way to be physical is doing more harm than good. That’s not their game. With the same breath, that does not mean that the body is the same not important, and it certainly wouldn’t hurt to add more sandpaper to the list. In turn, that will prevent their stars from being constantly disturbed. And if they’re interrupted anyway, opponents will know they’ll have to pay the price with MacDermid.

MacDermid Not a Standard Program

I wouldn’t have expected MacDermid to be on the list. When Hockey Writers asked about his comfort level playing a role where he is sometimes left out of the lineup, he replied, “That’s been my role for the past few seasons. It’s nothing new.”

Related: 5 Bargain Free Agents the New Jersey Devils Must Target

In all fairness, hockey-wise, MacDermid isn’t much help. His 31.19 goals-against percentage (xGF%) was the worst of all Devils pitchers who played 10-plus games — only Max Willman (27.00 xGF%) was worse, according to Natural Stat Trick. Opponents outscored the Devils 26-to-11 when MacDermid was on the ice, and that was all on the team’s fourth-string play.

In the exit talks, Fitzgerald said, “(We need) players who are willing to be comfortable when they scrimmage and understand that the body is part of the game. (We need to) get back to having a pressure line, or two, that can really change the momentum of the game. I think our fans deserve that and our core and the talent of our guys deserves it. that.”

Obviously, MacDermid won’t be a regular program, but this appears to be the first step in overhauling New Jersey’s ownership. Now, it’s a matter of how the Devils can continue to do that without sacrificing talent and skill. The free-agent market is thin, but the Devils still have highly regarded prospects and the 10th overall pick at their disposal.

When you’re healthy, the Devils’ program plays an amazing talent. But establishing the fact that they can’t be pushed around easily will help them keep their opponents on their toes, and help them regain some of their previously lost success.

Once the teams realize that they can’t get away from the Devils, that’s when the situation will start to change. (And they have to stay healthy, of course.)

Personally, I would have given MacDermid only one year. But by giving away three, a statement is made: The Devils are not good at being pushed. And that can pay dividends.

Substack Hockey Writers New Jersey Devils Banner

Source link

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button