New Jersey Devils are following the path set by the Edmonton Oilers

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Nico Hischier, Jack Hughes, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Connor McDavid

The New Jersey Devils are on their way to obtaining another No. 1 draft-pick while emulating the infamous Edmonton Oilers. 

Kyle McKenna

NEWARK, NJ – After Monday’s 7-1 beatdown at the hands of the Buffalo Sabres, the  New Jersey Devils possess the second-worst record in the NHL with a grand total of 22 points (9-13-4).

It’s year five of the Ray Shero era and most, well everyone, expected New Jersey to have more overall success by the time the calendar struck 2020 and not just for this season. In fact, it’s the second-straight season that the Devils enter the month of December with fewer than 10 wins.

Yes, the Devils were entering a rebuilding stage when Shero took over but are there reasons for concern?

Absolutely.

This brings ESNY to other pressing questions: Just how far off are the Devils from being legit contenders and are they, unfortunately, becoming the Edmonton Oilers of the last decade?

The New York Post’s Larry Brooks recently hinted that the Devils could be on the verge of turning into “Edmonton East.”

Brooks is referring to New Jersey potentially transforming into the Oilers in the sense that Edmonton managed to produce a string of losing seasons while obtaining the first-overall draft pick. This happened in 2010 (Taylor Hall), 2011 (Ryan Nugent-Hopkins), 2012 (Nail Yakupov) and 2015 (Connor McDavid).

Edmonton has only managed to clinch a berth in the Stanley Cup playoffs once (2016-17) after all of those No. 1 picks, while two of those players—Hall and Yakupov—are no longer with the team.

Since 2005, the Devils are the only repeat offender other than Edmonton to obtain the first-overall pick in the draft more than once (2017 & 2019). Having those first-overall selections certainly helps, but the team’s current situation doesn’t even hint at New Jersey turning out to be contenders anytime soon.

At this rate, the Devils are closer to spiraling down as another draft lottery team which is becoming all too common in Jersey.

Fans have to figure this season should be considered as good as “lost”, and perhaps it was after October ended?

Jersey’s Stanley Cup hungry fanbase can also expect more losing on the horizon after 2019-20, especially if the Devils are going to trade away pending unrestricted free agent, Taylor Hall, and possibly other veteran skaters like Wayne Simmonds and Kyle Palmieri. In fact, Shero would more than likely listen to teams calling on any veteran skaters at this point. Selling off multiple veterans makes the prospect of competing in the near future look bleak.

The team’s No. 1 overall selections in forwards Nico Hischier and Jack Hughes aren’t ready to carry a Devils team back to the playoffs and neither will the potential “assets” Jersey’s team could receive from trading away a player such as Hall.

Fans might also point to the team’s defense as a major problem. But even if the Devils were to part ways with defensemen such as Damon Severson or Mirco Mueller, is there another realistic option out there who would improve the team’s blueline immediately?

No.

MacKenzie Blackwood portrays signs of promise between the pipes for Jersey, but will a bad defensive unit and consistent losing streaks impact his progression for the worse?

The Devils appear to be in for another couple of seasons of finishing in the basement of the Eastern Conference while racking up high picks in the draft.

This sounds familiar to another franchise owned by the same ownership group as the Devils, no? It worked out well for the Philadelphia 76ers, but can it work in Jersey too?

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