Con: Salary Cap Implications
If the Devils keep the second-overall pick, they have a cost-controlled asset for at least three years. Slafkovsky (or Simon Nemec) would be making just under $1 million for three years during his entry-level deal. Then, they get that player’s rights for a long time. They usually sign either a bridge deal that gets them to more restricted free agent years or a long-term deal that buys some unrestricted years. Those deals usually get them to at least 10 years with the franchise.
However, if the Devils traded the second-overall pick, then it would be for a player that’s almost definitely going to be immediately expensive. The names we’ve heard that could possibly get traded are Matthew Tkachuk, Timo Meier, and Kevin Fiala. Those players either need contracts now, or they have one year left before that contract needs to be extended.
The Devils basically guarantee themselves into a $7+ million contract off the bat. That’s a lot of money and cap space to pay just to avoid a little risk. Can the Devils afford to pay a new player when they already have $8 million committed to Hughes, north of $7 million to Hischier, and $9 million to Dougie Hamilton? This is on top of whatever they are going to pay Jesper Bratt.
The Devils have been sitting with a plethora of cap space for a long time, but that could get hairy in no time. Just look at the Rangers. They have $13 million in cap space, but they only have eight forwards signed. The Devils aren’t near that situation for a while, but jumping on some expensive players could put them there quickly.