What The New Jersey Devils Must Do Going Forward


The trade deadline came and went, and just like any other day it left Devils fans a little frustrated at the quotes and mindset of President and GM Lou Lamoriello. In a day most fans expected players like Martin Havlat, Michael Ryder and Marek Zidlicky to be moved on and become someone else’s problem, only Marek Zidlicky was dealt. For a couple of conditional draft picks to the Detroit Red Wings.

After the return gained from the Panthers in the Jaromir Jagr trade, Devils fans had a right to sense that Lou would be able to get deals for Michael Ryder and Martin Havlat; even if it was for 4th or 5th round picks. As the clock ticked over 3 p.m., New Jersey Devils fans were left waiting for over 45 minutes before the team announced they were done for the day. Then quotes from Lou Lamoriello filtered out through Devils reporter Tom Gulitti saying the Devils are here to win now and that the team tried to do things to make the team better.

We’re here to win right now….. We certainly tried to do some things that could have made us better……

Maybe he really thinks that or maybe it’s better to say that than to say nobody wants to take Michael Ryder and Martin Havlat. The following day, the Devils played the Nashville Predators at Prudential Center and only dressed 11 forwards with Peter Harrold as the 7th defenseman. With no call-ups from Albany, many were frustrated again but some might say it was to help ease Damon Severson back in to action after the rookie defenseman was activated off IR. The Devils beat Nashville 3-1, with goals from Adam Larsson, Eric Gelinas and Mike Cammalleri to move within seven points of the 2nd wildcard spot.

The Devils now have 18 games remaining, a playoff probability of 0.6% and a 6.5% chance of winning the Connor McDavid sweepstakes. This goes against every comment Lou Lamoriello has made to the public.

New Jersey Devils
New Jersey Devils /

New Jersey Devils

Now is the time to give NHL minutes to potential future New Jersey Devils. With the season headed toward an April 11th finish, players like Stefan Matteau, Reid Boucher, Joe Whitney, Paul Thompson, Raman Hrabarenka have been left in Albany while players likely not coming back in 2015-16 have eaten up all of the minutes. If anything, giving NHL minutes to some of Albany’s top performers will show what the organisation has or doesn’t have. If any call-ups are made as the season comes to an end, they cannot be Tim Sestito and Cam Janssen.

With 18 games remaining, the New Jersey Devils will have a little under 3 months down time to get pending free agents signed up for next season.

The Devils currently have just over $4 million cap space, but with $10.2m of cap hits headed for UFA and likely to be elsewhere next season, the Devils have a lot of room to play with. When you add pending RFA cap hits to the total and factor in Cory Schneider’s extension kicking in, the Devils will head into the summer with approximately $14.5m in cap space to re-sign six to eight young players who currently have cap hits under $1m. Of the pending UFAs you could make the case for Scott Gomez to be signed on for another year and take on a mentor style role for the younger players. Devils fans may also be fine with Jordin Tootoo sticking around beyond this season.

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The players that must be re-signed as quickly as possible are Adam Larsson, Eric Gelinas, Keith Kinkaid, Seth Helgeson, Joe Whitney and Stefan Matteau. I’d throw in Scott Timmins and Scott Wedgewood as players to be re-signed but the first six are much more important to the organization moving forward.

The reason these players must be signed quickly is so management can work on who is going to be head coach next season, who are the Devils going to target at the draft, whether it be picking players or approaching teams for trades. If this is done efficiently Lou Lamoriello can go to work on free agency and go after the top-6 forward the team desperately needs.

All of this seems simple on paper. As sports fans we know that. We all like to play “armchair GM” but these are the moves I believe the team must make to start the road to recovery, to get back to being a force in the Eastern Conference hopefully starting with a return to playoffs in 2016.

Next: Severson Returns As Young Defense Leads Devils Over Nashville