The New Jersey Devils have some research to do when hockey returns next week.
The New Jersey Devils have $26 million in cap space going into this offseason. While they have some in-house free agents to take care of (Mackenzie Blackwood, Jesper Bratt, and Joey Anderson most importantly), they should have plenty of space to add some major names to the lineup. They could be swayed by some of those names while watching the NHL’s return-to-play format that starts next week.
We did this with the defensemen last week, and a lot of really interesting names popped up. We’ve seen this story in the past. A player knows his impending free agency, and hopefully a payday, is right around the corner. That has some players stepping up at the most important times. Granted, most of these players don’t need extra motivation in the playoffs, but we’ve seen impending free agents step up in the past.
It’s obvious that defense is the bigger need for the Devils this offseason, but free agency might be the smarter choice to find a forward than someone to fix the back end. The trade route might be best to make things better in front of Blackwood and (maybe) Cory Schneider.
There are currently 24 teams still alive as the best-of-five series begins on August 1st. There are dozens of free agents across the league that will look to build their profile in the most important games of the season. Things could get weird since a lot of these players haven’t played significant hockey in more than four months. Some will be out of shape, while others will be as healthy as they’ve been in years.
The Devils could find some players that would be just right for their timeline in free agency this season. These five are the ones we should pay the most attention to because they could prove something to us with how they play in the playoffs.