New Jersey Devils: State of the Salary Cap Address

(Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
(Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /
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(Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
(Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /

Last week, we looked at the top five contracts on the New Jersey Devils roster. As a follow-up, we look at the 5 worst contract on this team. However, the Devils really only have 2 contracts that are truly bad. Those contracts are that of P.K. Subban and Cory Schneider.

Subban’s contract, at a $9 million average annual value, is good through the 2021-22 season. For Subban’s production level, this contract value is horrible. Through 68 regular-season games played this season, he notched 18 points (7 goals, 11 assists). Over that span, he earned a -21 rating.

Stats aside, most fans agree Subban did not live up to what his reputation suggests. He would be strong on the puck and throw his body around at times, but often still had trouble keeping the puck out of the net. He looked slower than in seasons passed, and even his offensive production was much lower than that in his prime.

$9 million in cap allotment for that type of performance from Subban is extremely detrimental. Subban’s saving grace could be bringing any sort of veteran leadership, but it seems he is more concerned with his public image, which often proves to be distracting. We don’t know what happens behind closed doors in the Devils locker room, so we can’t say if Subban helps or hurts in the room.

Regardless, $9 million for Subban’s production on the ice will definitely hurt the Devils for the next couple of years, as they continue to build around Nico Hischier, Mackenzie Blackwood, and Jack Hughes.

The other prior mentioned contract, Cory Schneider’s, is also good through 2022. Though it is only worth $6 million against the salary cap, but Schneider’s contract is still quite expensive relative to his contributions.

At the time he signed this contract, Schneider was argued to be one of the best goaltenders in the NHL. Since then, he’s dealt with incessant injury problems, and his play has deteriorated as a result. His stat line for this season was just plain ugly. In 13 games played, his record is 3-6-2 with a GAA of 3.53 and a save percentage of .887. These are AHL numbers, at best. Schneider’s saving grace was his improved performance leading up to the NHL pause. Prior to that, it seemed obvious that he would be bought out this offseason.

At this point, I’m not sure what will happen with Cory. The abbreviated season shortened his shot at redemption with the team. As the Devils build out their roster, I would assume one of their top priorities is acquiring a solid goaltending piece to support Mackenzie Blackwood, especially given the rumors that arose alluding to Ray Shero’s firing partly being due to his lack of diligence with the Devils goaltending situation. For this to happen, the Devils would have to make room by removing Schneider. This points to the Devils buying out Schneider this offseason.

However, another scenario could happen. There has been some talk amongst fans about how the Devils will utilize their 1st-round draft pick(s) in the 2020 NHL draft. The Devils could be working with up to three 1st-round picks. With one of these picks, the Devils could draft a young Russian goaltender named Yaroslav Askarov.

If the Devils draft Askarov, the Devils could allow Schneider to stay, so as to avoid buy out fees wasting cap space. Keeping Schneider would bridge the gap between the time Askarov is drafted and the time he arrives ready to play in the NHL, and wouldn’t limit the Devils’ potential short-term, as the Devils have many roster issues on top of just goaltending. They likely won’t be making serious runs at the playoffs until 2022 anyway.