Replacing Michael McLeod is a top priority for the Devils this off-season

Replacing Michael McLeod is a top priority for the New Jersey Devils this off-season.
Dallas Stars v New Jersey Devils
Dallas Stars v New Jersey Devils / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages

Of the series of misfortunate events that have been the 2023-24 NHL season for the New Jersey Devils, the deepest void in their roster is left by Michael McLeod. Until this void is filled, nothing will change for this team.

Michael McLeod's time in the NHL is likely over following off-ice allegations that show him to be a horrific person.

What makes this such a difficult situation for general manager Tom Fitzgerald and his staff is the rarity of McLeod's skillset. With him on the team, the Devils are true playoff contenders in the Eastern Conference. Without him? Just take a look at the current status of the team to find out.

For a player to have the skillset and awareness of a top-six forward, yet who not only is willing to play bottom six minutes but enjoys it is an opposing team's worst fear. Michael McLeod was a matchup nightmare.

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With a McLeod-esque player, you add a guy who not only wins over 60% of his faceoffs, using a signature and unique approach on his offhand to snap-back draws and a guy who works very hard in the hard areas.

Michael McLeod was making a case to be the glorified version of what Darren Helm was for the Red Wings during the 2010s - a player who can single-handedly control the puck below the opposing team's goal line with elite speed, agility, and puck control.

Whether it's killing a major penalty, giving the stars on the team a breather, or just generating a spark, Michael McLeod got it done. In light of baseball starting up, think of McLeod being a curveball in a four-pitch arsenal. When you put it all together, that breaking ball can cripple the opposing team.

To put it simply, if the New Jersey Devils want to return to their prominence from a year ago, their top priority is to find a replacement for Michael McLeod by adding a new matchup nightmare to their bottom six.

Fortunately for the organization, some players in this much-anticipated draft class can contribute to the team in the same fashion as McLeod had. One of those players is Jett Luchanko out of the OHL for Guelph.

The Devils would not have to hope for a player like Jett to fall in their lap, as he'll likely be around towards the end of the 1st Round/early 2nd Round.

Nevertheless, if 'Jersey neglects this gaping hole in their lineup, the shortcomings of the 2023-24 NHL season will only become the new norm for this group. They need a matchup nightmare, especially in the Metropolitan Division, which is saturated with playoff contenders.