New Jersey Devils' early training camp lines ooze potential
Lindy Ruff has started camp with some exciting combos that could thrive when put in action.
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By Alex Chauvancy (@AlexC_THW)
We're getting close. The New Jersey Devils will play their first preseason games of the 2023-24 season on Monday evening, a split-squad against the Philadelphia Flyers and Montreal Canadiens.
Head coach Lindy Ruff held the team's first scrimmages of training camp Friday, giving us a glimpse as to what line combos and defense pairs he may use to start the preseason.
There aren't too many surprises, but let's review the current setup and the pros and cons of Ruff's lineup selections so far.
Bratt, Hughes & Toffoli
There isn't much surprise seeing Tyler Toffoli, the Devils' marquee acquisition this summer, on a line with Jesper Bratt and Jack Hughes. Bratt and Hughes have always played well together, specifically last season when they posted an expected goals share above 60 percent as linemates.
Hughes mentioned in his interview on 32 Thoughts a week ago that the reason he and Bratt always play well as linemates is because they always know each other's tendencies. Bratt will know where Hughes wants to go and what he wants to do with the puck – and vice versa.
We know what they can do together. Adding Toffoli to round out the unit should only help their line. He might not hit 34 goals and 73 points again, but you can't rule it out on a line with Bratt and Hughes.
Still, Toffoli is a high-volume shooter and a plus finisher. Even if he regresses, which is likely, totaling 30 goals and 55-60 points with Bratt and Hughes as his most common linemates is not unreasonable.
There aren't many cons to placing Toffoli with Bratt and Hughes, but if there's one, it's that he isn't the fastest skater. He should be good enough to keep up with them, and Bratt and Hughes will do the heavy lifting in transition anyway.
All Toffoli needs to do is get in the right spots in the offensive zone. I expect this line to fare quite well if that's how Ruff begins the preseason.
Meier, Hischier & Holtz
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