New Jersey Devils Free Agent Profile: Justin Williams


Looking back at the last few seasons, it’s hard to imagine that after the New Jersey Devils Stanley Cup run in 2011-2012 they’d end up here. In what was truly an exciting playoff run that fell short just 2 wins from a Stanley Cup, the New Jersey Devils haven’t been back to the playoffs since then. The Los Angeles Kings would go on to win another Stanley Cup in 2013-2014, but like the New Jersey Devils missed the playoffs last season. Now they have some players from their cup teams hitting the free agent market.

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While I’ve already covered

why the New Jersey Devils should be cautious when looking at this year’s free agent market

, I believe one older forward could potentially peak their interest. Soon to be UFA forward

Justin Williams

is hitting the open market at the age of 33 this summer. He’s a player who at age 32 won the Conn Smythe Trophy as the Stanley Cup Playoffs MVP and is still a scoring threat.

NOTE: I’m not saying the New Jersey Devils should sign Williams, but I do believe they could consider signing him.

Why They Could Try To Sign Him

Let me begin with why I believe the New Jersey Devils could end up signing Justin Williams on a short-term deal. At age 33 Williams does have plenty of mileage on him, but he is still finding the back of the net on a consistent basis. The last two seasons he’s had at least 40 points and has been a positive +/- rating. While his numbers have declined over the last two seasons, there’s no denying that he can still serve as a 2nd line forward and provide plenty of experience.

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Experience is something I believe the New Jersey Devils will need to on both offense and defense going forward in their rebuild. The organization wants to get younger and even though Justin Williams doesn’t fit that mold, he can help provide experience to younger players who come in the lineup. That experience could also be utilized in the trade market should the New Jersey Devils sign him and decide to sell him at the trade deadline. It could be another situation like the one with Jaromir Jagr last season and could help get more prospects for the rebuild.

Why They Probably Won’t Sign Him

Perhaps the biggest reason why the New Jersey Devils and GM Ray Shero wouldn’t be interested in signing Williams is due to their rebuild. We’ve discussed already that Reid Boucher, Stefan Matteau and others really should get a shot at making the New Jersey Devils roster next season. Signing Williams would just take up one of those potential spots and that would hinder their prospect development even further.

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Signing Justin Williams would add another potential scoring threat, but his number have been declining the last few years. Winning the Conn Smythe at age 32 after having a 43 point regular season is impressive, but how much does he have left? The New Jersey Devils have enough aging vets and really could do without adding another one. The idea of being able to move him like they did with Jagr is a good option to have, but they do have players on the current roster who they could always do that with.

I like Justin Williams and the game he plays, but personally I don’t see a fit for him on the New Jersey Devils for next season. He will likely be one of the more desirable players on the market due to the poor free agent class, so there’s also no guarantee he’d come cheap. The New Jersey Devils could use his scoring presence, but in the end the risk is too big for me and greatly outweighs any reward he could bring.

Next: Adam Larsson Will Be A Key Part Of The Devils Rebuild