Three New Jersey Devils who will thrive in 2020: P.K. Subban ready to roll
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After an atrocious start to the season, there are three New Jersey Devils players that will thrive in 2020, including P.K. Subban. 

Kyle McKenna

NEWARK, NJ—Joy isn’t just in the air because of the holiday season here in the New York City market.

Believe it or not, but the New Jersey Devils might not receive coal this year for the holidays. New Jersey is fresh off winning back-to-back games in regulation for the first time since Oct. 17-19 and there’s newfound energy at the Prudential Center since Taylor Hall was traded to Arizona on Monday.

While the first half of the 2019-20 campaign has been painful for Jersey’s team, there are three skaters that are prepared to thrive in the new calendar year. Here are three Devils that fans can expect to thrive in 2020.

Spoiler alert – neither Nico Hischier nor Jack Hughes made the cut.

P.K. Subban

Let’s just get this one out of the way; defenseman P.K. Subban couldn’t have wished for a worse start to his Metropolitan area debut with the Devils. It’s no secret and there’s no need to throw the horrifying and unnecessary stats out there.

What’s apparent is how Subban has slowly modified his game for the better. This hockey enthusiast said after the memorable opening night loss to Winnipeg that the Devils were still missing a true No. 1 defenseman, and that Subban wasn’t the answer to that absent component on the team’s blueline.

Subban can be great, but when No. 76 is utilized differently than being relied on as an Erik Karlsson or Drew Doughty.

The reality is that the 2012-13 Norris Trophy winner isn’t and never will be the same caliber blueliner fans witnessed with the Montreal Canadiens or at times in the Music City with the Nashville Predators. There’s still hope though, and it’s not because Subban’s zodiac sign predicts his 2020 to be filled with “new beginnings.”

Since New Jersey fired John Hynes, Subban’s performance from the eye’s point of view has improved and his decision with and without the puck is better than it was in all of October’s games combined.

There was arguably too much pressure on the borderline celebrity and distractions that threw Subban off his game to shine in Jersey. While he has a superhero-like nickname, Subbanator, he’s still human.

If there’s one characteristic no one can take away from the 2007 second-round draft pick – it’s heart to succeed and that he also loves the spotlight. What better way to achieve both when he and the team’s performance can only go up?

Wayne Simmonds

It may still seem that forward Wayne Simmonds should just return the Philadelphia Flyers and at a time when the City of Brotherly Love could use a veteran of his caliber for a realistic berth in the 2019-20 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Seriously, it’s still odd seeing Simmonds in a sweater other than the Flyers classic orange, white and black jersey.

Whether fans appreciate Simmonds and his current situation with New Jersey or not, don’t be surprised to see the 2018-19 Mark Messier Award winner display a commendable comeback in relation to his productivity.

Similar to Subban’s situation and role with Jersey, it’s possible that Simmonds wasn’t comfortable at first while being the true leader and productive forward fans have all come to witness. The Hall trade should benefit a few players and significantly No. 17.

Dealing Hall offered opportunity for everyone on the Devils’ roster to progress on the depth chart, and one less strong personality in the locker room and on the ice should see Simmonds take that opportunity by the fullest.

Also, Simmonds’ zodiac sign predicts an “extraordinary” 2020 after a tough go around in 2019.

Kyle Palmieri

Yes, forward Kyle Palmieri has arguably been the Devils’ top and most consistent skater all season.

That still doesn’t mean things can’t improve for a goal-scorer on one of the league’s worst teams moving forward. Like Simmonds’s situation, Hall leaving should benefit Palmieri and offer him more of a leadership role to lead with his play on the ice.

The 2009 first-round draft pick didn’t fit in well with the Anaheim Ducks for a reason – he found his niche in Jersey and now Palmieri received another spotlight to shine under—his biggest yet.

Expect Palmieri to transform in 2020 from a “good goal-scorer” to an all-star. New Jersey’s embraced one of its own, while the four-time 20 goal-scorer has reciprocated towards the Garden State.

Kyle McKenna is a freelancer who covers the NHL for Elite Sports New York, Hooked On Hockey Magazine & Fansided. Follow him on Twitter @KMcKenna_tLT5 and use the hashtag #McKennasDigest to have your NHL questions featured in an article or answered over his weekly NHL podcast.