The New Jersey Devils entered the 2023-24 NHL season as favorites to make the Stanley Cup Playoffs. In fact, some considered them contenders for the Stanley Cup. It wasn't a question of if New Jersey was making it, it was whether they'd make it as a division champion. However, reality is much different than expectations.

The Devils have officially missed the 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs. It's a disappointing end to a season that held a ton of promise. New Jersey fans got to see key parts of the future in Luke Hughes and Simon Nemec this season. They got to see Jack Hughes play at a high level. And Jesper Bratt emerged as a point-per-game producer.

However, the season got off the rails rather quickly. New Jersey fell down the standings early on, and they never truly recovered. It even resulted in the firing of veteran head coach Lindy Ruff.  The season is finally nearing its end, so eyes turn to the offseason. A crucial offseason awaits general manager Tom Fitzgerald as he tries to get things back on track.

There are moves to be made this summer. New Jersey certainly can shake up the roster a bit and find their way back to contention. That said, it may not be smooth sailing for the Devils. In fact, there are reasons to be rather worried about the team in 2024-25. With that in mind, let's go over two concerns New Jersey fans should have with their team heading into next season.

Injuries piling up

New Jersey Devils defenseman Dougie Hamilton (7) celebrates his goal against the Detroit Red Wings during the third period at Prudential Center.
Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

One of the reasons the Devils missed the Stanley Cup Playoffs is injury. The Devils roster was decimated this season. Star defenseman Dougie Hamilton suffered a torn pectoral muscle, limiting him to 20 games to this point. Jack Hughes has missed extended time with injury, as well. In fact, he's getting shoulder surgery and will be out for the remainder of the season.

It isn't just the stars, though. Goalie Vitek Vanecek missed 13 games prior to a trade at the NHL Trade Deadline. Defenseman Jonas Siegenthaler has missed 25 games this year. Forward Nathan Bastian has been out for 23 games and counting. The list goes on and on. New Jersey received brutal luck on the injury front in 2023-24.

The optimistic view is that the team can begin the 2024-25 season anew. Get everyone healthy over the summer and push forward on a clean slate. However, the amount of time missed due to injury this year can have an effect next season. The amount of recovery required over the summer may clash with usual preparations.

Can the Devils overcome the amount of injuries sustained this season? Of course. They absolutely could come in next year as a completely healthy team and bounce back. That being said, there are reasons to be concerned about how these injuries will come into effect when the puck again drops this fall.

Goaltending instability

Another major reason the Devils missed the Stanley Cup Playoffs is their goaltending. Viteck Vanecek entered the season as the starter and he came off a career season. However, he struggled mightily in 2023-24. And as mentioned, he didn't finish the year with New Jersey. He struggled to an .890 save percentage before a trade to the San Jose Sharks.

New Jersey's other options didn't fare much better. Akira Schmid starred in the Stanley Cup Playoffs a season ago but struggled to an .895 save percentage. Nico Daws turned in a similar performance, posting an .894 save percentage in 21 games.

To be fair, the Devils have received fine play from their NHL Trade Deadline acquisitions. Veteran Jake Allen has played 11 games in New Jersey, posting a .911 save percentage. Kaapo Kahkonen has played in just five games, but he has recorded a .918 save percentage with the Devils.

Their play down the stretch certainly provides some hope that it can get better in goal. However, Kahkonen is a free agent at the end of this season. And there's no guarantee he will replicate this form in 2024-25. Allen, on the other hand, is signed through the 2024-25 campaign. That said, he is 34 years old next year. How much he has left in the tank is unknown.

The Devils can certainly make moves in the offseason to upgrade in goal. For instance, Nashville Predators goalie Jusse Saros could be on the move if an extension can't be reached. But making a big move for a goalie could also come back to haunt them. And with so much instability between the pipes now, they need to be careful about potentially creating more next season.