The New Jersey Devils will see yet another debut tonight when defenseman Santeri Hatakka takes the ice in red and black for the first time.
Monday night won’t be Hatakka’s NHL debut. That was back on Oct. 30th, 2021 as a member of the San Jose Sharks. In nine games, Hatakka provided two assists and was a minus-5, averaging 12:38 of time on ice.
Following a brutal 6-2 loss to the Dallas Stars, head coach Lindy Ruff shook things up on the blue line. That’s partially because Colin Miller was missing from morning skate. The veteran Devils defenseman is dealing with an illness and is unable to play tonight. That allows New Jersey to slide in another left-handed defenseman in Hatakka. He skated alongside Cal Foote during this morning’s line rushes.
The Hatakka-Foote duo is certainly a pair that makes sense. The Utica Comets recalls played a lot together down in the AHL and have been pretty stable on the backend for New Jersey’s affiliate. Now, they’re hoping to translate their game to the varsity level.
“I think we’re a pretty stable pair,” Hatakka explained Monday morning. “Cal has more NHL experience (than me). He’s more stay-at-home & can move the puck well. He’ll support me in the puck battles. I can bring some fast skating to our game.”
After making an impression this summer at the Devils’ Development Camp, Hatakka has another chance to do so when it matters most.
As for the forward group, Ruff left his lines untouched.
Monday’s Devils Morning Workflow
Tyler Tofoli – Nico Hischier – Jesper Bratt
Timo Meier – Michael McLeod – Dawson Mercer
Erik Haula – Curtis Lazar – Nathan Bastian
Max Willman – Chris Tierny – Alexander Holtz
Kevin Bahl – Simon Nemec
Luke Hughes – John Marino
Santeri Hatakka – Cal Foote
Devils Projected Starting Goaltender
As you can see in the morning workflow, Vitek Vanecek was back in the starter’s crease this morning. He’s projected to get the nod against the Vegas Golden Knights tonight.
Vanecek is coming off potentially his best start of the season Friday night when the Czech goaltender made 29 saves on 30 shots, accruing a .967 SV% and 2.06 saves above expected per MoneyPuck.
Devils Injury Updates from Lindy Ruff
Ruff disclosed some injury updates following Monday’s skate.
As we mentioned yesterday, New Jersey Hockey Now learned that although Jack Hughes may attend the All-Star Game, he might not play. According to the Devils’ head coach, he does not expect Jack to return in the three games between now and the All-Star break.
On a good note, Ruff disclosed that both Ondrej Palat and Tomas Nosek have begun skating on their own. The two Devils forwards could return as soon as this week.
You might have forgotten about Nolan Foote. Well, he’s still technically on the Devils’ roster, although he’s on the season-opening injured reserve. Unfortunately, mums still the word on the Devils forward.
“(Nolan) just continues to rehab,” Ruff explained. “Not so sure (about his status), he’s a little bit further down the radar.”
The Devils face off against the Golden Knights tonight at 7 PM.