New Jersey Devils: A Final Look At Free Agency

Calgary Flames left wing Johnny Gaudreau (13): Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
Calgary Flames left wing Johnny Gaudreau (13): Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports /
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The New Jersey Devils still have a lot of work to do before training camp starts to put a competitive team out there in the Metropolitan Division. While the defense looks set at the top the forward group has a lot of question marks that need to be addressed. There are a lot of very good free agents but if the Devils are going to go big game hunting again as they did with Hamilton last season remains to be seen this team needs to make moves either way.

The Big Names

New Jersey Devils
Calgary Flames Johnny Gaudreau (13) and Dallas Stars John Klingberg (3): Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports /

Johnny Gaudreau

This is the biggest name out there this year, so let’s get it out of the way right away. Johnny Gaudreau is a top 10 scorer in the league and the season he is coming off of is nothing short of incredible. He had 40 goals to add to 115 points and he did this sitting at a +64. This would have been the Devils’ all-time best season for points and he would make the team better immediately, but this is still a guy the team probably shouldn’t go for.

Why is that?

The Flames have a deal worth $10 million on the table for him. It is likely a max deal at eight years, which is something the Devils can’t match. He is worth $10 million right now but at 28, 29 when the season begins, this would put him at a frightening age of 36 when the deal expires. Players do decline in their 30s, and sometimes quickly. Gaudreau should be great for three years, good for another three, and then probably an ok guy at the end and very overpaid which might not fit for the Devils.

This team would also probably have to beat that offer and put another digit on the number going over $10 million, which could really hurt going forward. One would expect that Gaudreau wants to win. The Devils have been bad for a long time and the last time they were a legitimately good team was in 2012. They would have to not only drive the truck of money out to sign him but convince him that this team can win and be competitive soon. It seems like a long shot but they probably will be in the running and tomorrow will be very interesting.

Nazem Kadri

Another guy who had a phenomenal season and ended up capping it off with a Stanley Cup is Nazem Kadri. He is going to get paid this offseason. He is a good player, but when you come off winning a Cup while having a career year in a contract year, teams always overpay. It always bites the team that does it. On top of the points, he plays a dirty, physical game which this team really needs. However, at 31 years old, 32 when the season starts, the Devils need to stay far away from this and the $8 million he will be making.

John Klingberg

The Dallas Stars are a borderline playoff team and they do have some cap space but with a few very good key young pieces needing deals like Jake Ottinger and Jason Robertson that will be long-term and costly, it is tough to tell if they can or will commit to the soon to be 30-year-old star defender.

John Klingberg is a consistently good player and can skate with the best of them. He can move the puck which is very clearly what the Devils are going for from the back end. It seems likely they will be intrigued even if it is unlikely and redundant with Dougie Hamilton already in New Jersey. With 115 points in 185 games over the last 3 seasons, his numbers are elite and whoever gets him should be happy about it. He really hasn’t slowed down, so his career won’t fall off a cliff like P.K. Subban’s in his 30s.

Based on this year’s draft and the last few seasons, it is clear the team doesn’t have faith in the core of this team on the defensive side of the puck. They could end up doing this, but the odds are very low. They have players coming up in Luke Hughes, Shakir Mukhamadullin, and the newly drafted Śimon Nemec, who are all first-rounders. It would not make sense long term.

Klingberg is coming off a very team-friendly deal in which he was making 4.25 the last 7 seasons and this is really his last shot at a big deal so this one could go either way in terms of length and price but it will be a raise no doubt.