The New Jersey Devils have a lot of priorities this offseason. First and foremost is solidifying the goaltending position. That will make or break the Devils next season (as it has broken the past three seasons). Next on the list is finding a top-six winger. The Devils might see their second-overall pick in the NHL Draft as a possible long-term solution with Juraj Slafkovsky, but right now they need someone to pair with Jack Hughes or Nico Hischier.
One position most would say is absolutely not needed is center. The Devils finished the season with Hughes, Hischier, Jesper Boqvist, and Michael McLeod down the middle. McLeod is the oldest of the group, and he’s just 24 years old. It seems like they are set at the position for a long time.
Should New Jersey Devils target free agent Claude Giroux?
However, it is really smart to go into the season with that position set like that? Wouldn’t it be smart for the Devils to look at a veteran at the position?
There are some interesting options on the free-agency market that could bring a veteran presence at the position. The Devils don’t need a top-six center. Hughes and Hischier are stars, and they need to be in a position where they can thrive. Where the Devils can use someone is in Boqvist’s position. Boqvist has spent just as much time on the wing as he has at center.
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When looking at some of the options on the market, one that seems to jump out is Claude Giroux. On paper, one might think the connection between Giroux and the Devils doesn’t make sense. The Devils aren’t exactly a guarantee to be in contention, something that would interest Giroux in the long run. They don’t have a desperate need at the position, and they would force the former Philadelphia Flyers captain down the lineup. He would also literally be a man amongst boys, but not in the positive sense.
However, this is an interesting opportunity for Giroux. He can come into a franchise that is desperate for veteran leadership, and they are willing to pay for it. The Devils are one of the teams looking to spend that actually has cap space to spend.
Giroux brings more than just leadership to the lineup. He had 65 points this past season. This is despite the fact that he played most of his time for the Flyers, who were just as bad as the Devils. He would be a great fit despite the fact we spent so much time hating him.
The big question is whether he has the desire to take a risk on the Devils. He will have teams pining for him this offseason. The Florida Panthers probably can’t afford him, but maybe the Colorado Avalanche spin the wheels on him again. Either way, Giroux seems like a good bet to get offers elsewhere. Maybe the Devils can impress him with money and opportunity. He is 34 years old.
While the two seem like they could fit each other’s needs, the Devils just aren’t close enough to a Stanley Cup to make this realistic. It’s fun to talk about, and it would be fun to make happen, but this just isnt’ the right time.