New Jersey Devils Must Be Careful In Free Agency


New Jersey Devils GM Ray Shero has started off the 2015 off-season by taking care of his biggest priority in assembling a new coaching staff. He now faces the daunting task of rebuilding the New Jersey Devils roster to make it successful once again. While we already anticipate this task taking multiple years to fully accomplish, this off-season will be a major factor in the duration of the rebuild. Two important events are rapidly approaching with the 2015 NHL Entry Draft on June 26th and free agency on July 1st.

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The New Jersey Devils have 6 picks in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft


will select 6th overall in the 1st round

. We’ve already discussed some potential targets and why

they should draft the best player available at 6

, but one event we haven’t discussed in-depth is free agency. The New Jersey Devils will have around $23 million in cap space for free agency, but this year’s free agent class is not that strong.

Highlighted by names such as Devan Dubnyk, Mike Green, Carl Soderberg and Justin Williams this year’s free agent class is mostly old and scarce with major talent. This is not good news for the New Jersey Devils as it limits their ability to utilize their cap space to make improvements to the roster. This isn’t to say they won’t/can’t try targeting cap tight teams in the trade market, but it takes away a convenient avenue of improvement.

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With pressure on the organization from the fans who are anxious to have a playoff caliber team once again, the New Jersey Devils cannot let this impact them. GM Ray Shero and Head Coach John Hynes are committed to this rebuild and are well aware that free agency will not be the best option for finding talent. Shero told Tom Gulitti via the Fire & Ice Blog that he will only pursue players who fit the team mold of “fast, attacking and supportive.”

When taking a look at this year’s free agent class along with the New Jersey Devils roster, it’s hard to find anyone who fits that mold that Shero is looking for. Ray Shero is well aware of this as well as he said, “I certainly don’t think that’s going to be the avenue we’re building a team though.” The New Jersey Devils can utilize free agency for a couple of players to fit a need such as adding a veteran defenseman. Former New Jersey Devils like Paul Martin or Johnny Oduya could be a good fit and are likely heading to new teams this off-season.

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I do believe the New Jersey Devils and Ray Shero can address some of their needs by adding a player or two in free agency, but they certainly can’t use it to complete their rebuild. The lack of talent and consistent scoring doesn’t add up to make a majority of these players worth the New Jersey Devils cap space. It may not be what fans want to hear, but this rebuild needs to be done the right way or the New Jersey Devils risk extending their playoff drought even longer. We’ve recently seen how free agent signings can backfire (Michael Ryder & Martin Havlat) and the New Jersey Devils are not in a strong enough position to take more risks this off-season.

There are plenty of other risks that Ray Shero can take in both the draft and in a trade, but free agency is a big risk this off-season. If you sign too many aging forwards with skills that are regressing and you risk duplicating last year’s debacle. If you sign “low-risk” players then you risk not getting enough skill to make an improvement on the roster. The New Jersey Devils are better off exploring other options to get better and Ray Shero thankfully knows and understands this. Hopefully he sticks to his word and won’t repeat the same mistakes Lou Lamoriello made last off-season.

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