Writer’s Twitter: @ChrisMottHockey
Jesper Bratt is close to returning after suffering a broken jaw in practice during the Devils trip to Europe. With Bratt set to return soon, there has been debate over who would be the one to come out of the lineup. When the Devils were 4-0 to start the season, the speculation was different, and has changed vastly since the Devils dropped two straight. Nonetheless, Bratt will soon be receiving his roster spot when he comes off injured reserve, meaning someone will need to come out of the lineup.
With the Opening Season Roster
At first, the answers seemed to be between John Quenneville and Jean-Sébastien Dea. Before Dea went on his scoring spree, the answer leaned in the direction of Quenneville coming out of the lineup. This belief was due to reasons as simple as the old saying “It’s all about who you know.” Dea was originally signed by Ray Shero when he was General Manager of the Penguins, and given that John Hynes coached Pittsburgh’s minor league affiliate in Wilkes-Barre Scranton, everything seemed to add up in Dea’s favor, which also meant he would most likely have a longer leash.
A lot of things have changed, with Dea playing at a high level and scoring, Quenneville getting sent down to Binghamton, and center Kevin Rooney getting called up. The Devils have also lost two straight games against the Colorado Avalanche and Philadelphia Flyers, with New Jersey surrendering the game-winning goals toward the end of each contest. John Hynes put the players through the ringer at practice with a lot of skating to send a message that their recent performances have not been acceptable, nobody is safe, and everyone needs to be held accountable.
After the Recent Lineup Changes
Now taking a look at the roster and recent performance, there are a couple players that could still be taken out once Bratt returns. Two of these players include Kevin Rooney and Drew Stafford. Rooney was recently called up when Quenneville was sent down and while known as a phenomenal penalty killer, has not shown much else other than that ability. As for Drew Stafford, while he has not necessarily done anything to hurt the Devils too much, he has not done anything to really help or improve the team. Either of these two could come out of the lineup when Bratt returns, and it would make more sense at this point based on recent play and skill sets for Rooney to be removed.
The Devils got a shot in the arm the other day at practice with intense skating and a strong message delivered from Head Coach John Hynes that the recent play is unacceptable and will not be tolerated. They may get another shot in the arm as well once Bratt returns from injured reserve.