Hughes in particular should be a major key to success this season, with sparks being shown already in his short career and a rapidly rising ceiling. Honestly, all signs point to the dude having the potential of being a sincere star. Mix that with the additions of Graves and Hamilton and, hopefully, a full run from Nico and Jonas, and there is no reason that New Jersey couldn't be thorns of the division. Hell, maybe even a wildcard spot is in order which is saying something considering where they were and how hard the Metro is.
That said, I also think it's healthy to be honest and let reality take the wheel. New Jersey plays in the same field as the Islanders, the Penguins, the Flyers, the Rangers, Carolina, and Washington. I have a hard time saying they will be better overall than any of those units, instead believing the path to a wildcard spot requires a lot of victories over the rest of the league coupled with some darkhorse luck. It's just as likely that the team progresses in quality while remaining low in the standings.
To further add some bad news, fans that aren't living in the MSG territory (or wanting to drop a shit load of cash to access the channel via a cord-cutting service) are going to have a shitty time this season unless I'm misreading things. ESPN's deal with the league has killed NHL.TV and I only see a small handful of games that are set to air on ESPN+. In fact, the first puck drop set to air isn't even until the start of November, leaving the preseason and October MIA outside of YouTube highlight video uploads. Currently, ESPN lists less than 10 games scheduled to air on ESPN+/HULU and only one on TNT. I just hope fans that are out of the area are able to find a way to stay up to date. If I am wrong, its because ESPN has been terrible at promoting the deal properly.
UPDATE: I had to dig a bit on the app, but I do see two preseason games listed as airing on the service. Who fucking knows what games are actually airing at this point. Too bad ESPN isn't promoting the details of their deal very well.
The preseason kicks off tomorrow with a game at 7 against the Capitals. They'll face Washington twice, the Rangers twice, and the Islanders twice during the run of six games lasting through the 7th. The games don't matter but they also do, with the team really needing to start as hot as possible. Winning at least three could do wonders.
I'll do my best to cover things in this new ongoing section as much as possible. Hopefully that helps.
So, that's the season ahead. There's a lot to look forward to but I also urge you to remain realistic.
A special shout out to the classy move from Zajac, a Devils legend, for signing a one day contract to end his special career in red and black.