The New Jersey Devils have not had the best season but there are players worthy of attending the NHL’s All-Star Weekend in Las Vegas in February. A Devil will be going and the decision is not a simple one as there are a couple of players who could make the team when rosters are announced today at 6 p.m. on ESPN.
Dawson Mercer is a dark horse choice. The Devils’ rookie came out of the gate strong and thrusted himself into the Calder conversation. His first two months of the season consisted of some all-star level goals and assists as he was an important piece of a Devils team that was missing Jack Hughes.
Mercer has 20 points (nine goals, 11 assists) this season but has struggled since the end of November with only six points in his last 17 games. If the NHL plans on sending a rookie from each division then Mercer should be there for the Metropolitan Division otherwise Mercer should have to wait for his first all-star selection.
Hughes has had an amazing season up until this point. The 20-year-old has 20 points (nine goals, 11 assists) in only 19 games and is the team’s only player over a point per game. Lately, Hughes has made his case to be an all-star with 12 points in his last six games.
The only thing working against Hughes is the extended time he missed with a dislocated shoulder. While Hughes is the most talented player on the team’s roster and may be the league’s choice to represent New Jersey, there is a player a little more deserving than the young superstar.
Jesper Bratt has been other-worldly this season. The 23-year-old is in the middle of a breakout season with 32 points (10 goals, 22 assists) in 34. Bratt was the team’s offensive focal point when Hughes was out and has thrived in a first-line role this year. The fifth-year player is showing how complete of an offensive player he is with his above-average shooting and passing ability.
Since October 30, Bratt is operating at a 1.103 point per game pace which puts him among the league’s best. Bratt should be the team’s representation in Las Vegas giving the former 6th-round pick the league-wide recognition he greatly deserves.