Division Rival: Devils Ready to Compete with Rangers

Vince Carbonneau
July 8, 2024  (8:08 PM)

Rangers devils fight
Photo credit: Yahoo Sports

If the New York Rangers aim to secure a top seed in the Stanley Cup Playoffs next season, they'll need to contend with a tough and improved Metropolitan Division. Their biggest challenge could come from their Hudson River rivals, the New Jersey Devils.

After surprisingly missing the playoffs in 2023-24, the Devils have been very active this offseason to close the gap on the Rangers, who won the division last season with a franchise-record 55 wins and 114 points. The Devils traded for goalie Jacob Markstrom and signed defensemen Brett Pesce and Brenden Dillon, as well as forwards Tomas Tatar and Stefan Noesen. They also hired Sheldon Keefe as their new coach.
These moves have certainly captured the Rangers' attention and excited Tatar, who is returning to the Devils after playing with them from 2021-23.
Asked about the Devils' chances in the competitive Metro division, Tatar smiled and said, «Good. I'm excited our division is tough. It's a challenge but you have to embrace it.»
The Devils are looking to bounce back after a disappointing season, finishing second-to-last in the Metro and 10 points out of the playoffs despite a talented roster on paper.
«We all gotta come ready and hungry and hopefully do everything we can to be successful again,» Tatar said. «I had a hard time believing the Devils didn't make the playoffs last season, but I think that's putting even more fire for everyone to come ready and show what we can do.»
The Metro is shaping up to be highly competitive. The Rangers, who won the Presidents' Trophy and reached the Eastern Conference Final, will return most of their roster and added veteran forward Reilly Smith. The Carolina Hurricanes, who finished with 111 points, lost several key free agents, potentially making way for the Devils to rise. The New York Islanders and Washington Capitals are also coming off playoff berths, with the Capitals having a big offseason of their own.
The Philadelphia Flyers and Pittsburgh Penguins remain formidable, with the Penguins still boasting Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.
Despite the competition, it's hard to argue that anyone in the Metropolitan Division had a better offseason than the Devils.
«Obviously the offseason was very successful. The team looks very scary on paper,» Tatar added. «I was really excited with the additions. They're all players who are very tough to play against from my experience, so now I'm very happy to have them as teammates.»
Markstrom is a crucial upgrade in net for a Devils team that finished fifth-worst in goals-against average and save percentage last season. Pesce and Dillon bolster a blue line that struggled without the injured Dougie Hamilton. Noesen strengthens the forward depth, and Tatar is a six-time 20-goal scorer.
Division Rival: Devils Ready to Compete with Rangers

Do you think the New Jersey Devils will finish higher than the New York Rangers in the Metropolitan Division next season?

Yes210.5 %
No1789.5 %
Latest 10 stories