For the first time since December 20, the New Jersey Devils will have John Marino back in the lineup. The team activated the defenseman from injured reserve and will dress him tonight against the Vancouver Canucks.
With Marino in the lineup this season, the Devils are 21-9-2. His steady defensive presence has fit in perfectly with the young group, and further opens up talent like Dougie Hamilton to flourish offensively. Averaging more than 21 minutes a night, the offseason acquisition looks like a core piece to build around, and one that is likely going to outperform his reasonable contract.
Marino is signed through the 2026-27 season at a $4.4MM cap hit, joining Hamilton and Jonas Siegenthaler as Devils defensemen with long-term deals. His presence may mean the team can afford to lose Damon Severson in the summer – or even potentially trade the pending free agent at the deadline should the right deal present itself.
First, Marino must show that he can immediately make the same impact upon his return. It’s been more than six weeks since he played, and the Devils are in a different situation. No longer the Metropolitan Division leaders, they will have to keep fighting off the charging New York Rangers to maintain home ice advantage in the first round.