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The Devils open their preseason schedule tonight, as they take on the Washington Capitals at the Prudential Center at 7 PM. The Devils will be dressing their fair share of younger players, but there are a few notables mainstays that will see their first action of the preseason tonight. Cory Schneider will sit tonight’s game, with Keith Kinkaid and Scott Wedgewood set to do a 50/50 split in net.
What to Watch
- All three of Taylor Hall, Marcus Johansson, and Kyle Palmieri are slated to play tonight. The trio has practiced together since camp opened on Friday, with Johansson centering the two wingers. Johansson will get the first crack at centering the team’s top line after Travis Zajac went down with a torn biceps that’ll keep him out until at least the new year. Johansson has not played center in quite some time, but of the options the Devils have to take over for Zajac, he makes the most sense. He comes to the Devils as one of their top two-way forwards with the offensive ability to play between the Devils two top scorers and could help form a formidable first line.
- First overall pick and the Devils top prospect, Nico Hischier, will also make his preseason debut tonight. Hischier has been centering John Quenneville and Jimmy Hayes (both of whom are in tonight’s lineup) in practice yesterday. Hischier impressed at the prospects challenge and by all accounts, has looked good early on training camp. I wouldn’t expect Hischier to be given tough minutes right off the bat, but he’ll get a chance to showcase why the Devils made him the first overall pick this past June. Playing alongside a highly skilled John Quenneville should only help that.
- On defense, the Devils will be going with a handful of younger players, including Will Butcher. Butcher won the Hobey Baker and the National Title with the University of Denver this past season. Like Hischier, Butcher impressed at last week’s prospects challenge and will get a chance to play right away. He’ll be a welcomed addition to a Devils’ blue line that’s lacking some much needed puck-moving ability
- Will Butcher isn’t the only Devils defenseman who will make his team debut tomorrow night. Mirco Mueller will make his first appearance in a Devils uniform after being acquired from the Sharks prior to the expansion draft in June. There isn’t the hype surrounding him as there is Butcher, but Mueller will be looking for a new start in New Jersey after not being able to crack a San Jose blue line that included seasoned veterans such as Brent Burns, Marc-Edouard Vlasic, and Paul Martin. At 22-years old, Mueller still has room to grow, but he’ll have to earn his spot with a number of the Devils young defensemen competing to be on the opening night roster.
- One player Devils fans should keep an eye on is Jesper Bratt, a former sixth round pick of the Devils in 2016. Bratt is a small but highly-skilled forward from Sweden, who is slated to play for the OHL’s London Knights this season. Bratt is creative, has good play-making abilities, and was one of Sweden’s best players in the WJC Summer Showcase earlier this summer. Don’t be surprised if he ends up making a name for himself in the not too distant future.
Tonight’s game is not televised on any of the MSG Networks, but can be seen on CSN DC at 7PM.