Offense, offense, offense, that is the focus of the 2014 off season for the New Jersey Devils. Anyone can see that the Devils need to score more goals, but who could they get to make that happen? Here are names that the Devils need to be in on to address major needs.
1. Paul Stastny - 71 GP, 25 goals, 35 assists. Everybody’s top free agent target heading into this offseason. Stastny already had a hefty cap hit at $6.6 million AAV, but is expecting a raise next season. Rumor is that Stastny will test free agency to see what he can get on the open market.
Stastny is the first line playmaking center that most teams need, especially the Devils. He has not played a full season where he scored less than 20 goals and finished with under 50 points. Also, Stastny posted a 54.1 faceoff win%, which will help the Devils who are one of the worst in the league in that category.
2. Matt Moulson - 75 GP, 23 goals, 28 assists. Probably the most underrated player in the entire league, Matt Moulson had a tumultuous 2013-14 season being traded two times, ending up in Minnesota. The three time 30 goal scorer has performed well on many underachieving teams.
Moulson, 30, has not been rumored to be leaving or staying in Minnesota, but if he were to leave I would expect the Devils to give him a look. He has a tendency to get to the dirty areas around the crease and that is where he cashes in. The left-winger would be a great fit on the top line with Travis Zajac and Jaromir Jagr next season. Also, as a bonus, he scored on 7/14 shootout attempts.
3. Ryan Callahan - 65 GP, 17 goals, 19 assists. Callahan is noted more for his leadership, penalty killing, and defensive game rather than his scoring ability, but do not hold that against him. The former New York Rangers captain is a three-time 20 goal scorer. His grit and and style of play could let him post upwards of 25 goals for the Devils next season.
The Tampa Bay Lightning would like to retain Callahan, but many speculate that he will test free agency and return home to Buffalo or take a discount and return to the Rangers. Callahan wants a deal of 5+ years at over $6 million per year, but that is an insane overpayment for him. If his value drops, the Devils should steal him.
4. Jussi Jokinen - 81 GP, 21 goals, 36 assists. The Pittsburgh Penguins left-winger re-found his magic touch this past season scoring his first 20 goal season since 2009-10 when he scored 30 with the Carolina Hurricanes. Jokinen would be a great fit with the Devils playing in the left-wing spot on the top line.
New Penguins GM Jim Rutherford would like to retain Jokinen as the two spent time together with the Hurricanes, but the Penguins may run into cap trouble with defensemen Kris Letang’s massive contract kicking in next season and Matt Niskanen needing a new contract. If he hits the open market, he would be a great fit for the Devils on that top line.
5. Jiri Sekac - The 22-year-old Czech winger played his recent hockey for Lev Praha of the KHL, but is getting serious interest from NHL teams and will sign a contract soon. It is believed that three teams are finalists for signing Sekac, The Devils, Flyers, and Senators.
Sekac is a young talented forward that could add some scoring depth, maybe not immediately, but also in the future. Sekac has great skating ability and hands to go with a strong 6-foot-2 frame. He is a bit on the scrawny side, but will put on more muscle as he gets older. He would be a great pickup for any NHL team.
Some of you are probably sitting there wondering, why are Marian Gaborik and Thomas Vanek not listed here? Because neither would fit well on the Devils and not live up to the price tag they bring.