With all the changes this season for the Devils franchise, one became a significant advantage for the Devils: the move of the team's AHL affiliate, the Binghamton Devils, to Newark for the 2021 season. As a result, the organization has the ability to use their farm system for fresh legs during their packed schedule.
"The strategy would always be just really utilize the depth of our organization right now," said Devils Executive Vice President and General Manager Tom Fitzgerald. "I think we're fortunate having our farm team play out of New Jersey right her win Newark…we'll always have guys playing whether if they're not playing [for] New Jersey, they'll go down and play some games for [Binghamton]. We feel like we'll have most nights, if not every night, fresh legs injected into our lineup."
"We've got some young guys that have had some great experience for us through these first eleven, twelve games," said Devils Head Coach on using the young players so far this season. "With the amount of games we're gonna play we're just going to have to put fresh bodies in, take a couple, replace a couple, not even a healthy scratch situation, just let's put some fresh legs in."
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In addition to the energy brought by young players eager to play, the organization also has a front row seat to watching the development of their future, while giving them a chance to play some meaningful minutes.
"You don't know what you have underneath the hood of your car unless you allow them to play," said Fitzgerald on evaluating the prospects in the Devils organization. "We've got good players, good young players in this organization and they just need a chance. They were told that on day one, they will get an opportunity to play. However, it's up to [them] to seize that moment and understand it, and continue to take advantage of it."
Several young players did seize their opportunities especially with the absence of center Nico Hischier at the start of the season, and several other veteran players with longer times on the COVID-protocol list.
"When you look at some of the minutes and some of the situations that a lot of our young guys have played, a lot of young guys have played key minutes, played at key times in games and probably wouldn't have gotten that if those guys were here," said Ruff.
"We've shown right now that we've got some really good young players in our lineup," said Fitzgerald. "Now that might not be every night, might be every other game, maybe it's four games that go down to the taxi squad, go down to the minors, but that's the strategy we have for these kids. And we believe the depth of the organization will really help us through this really funny year."