New Jersey Devils: Two Big Free Agent Questions Regarding Johnny Gaudreau

Oct 26, 2021; Newark, New Jersey, USA; Calgary Flames left wing Johnny Gaudreau (13) shoots the puck during the first period of their game against the New Jersey Devils at Prudential Center. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 26, 2021; Newark, New Jersey, USA; Calgary Flames left wing Johnny Gaudreau (13) shoots the puck during the first period of their game against the New Jersey Devils at Prudential Center. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports /

The 2022 NHL Free Agent market will open on Wednesday. The New Jersey Devils already made moves like selecting Simon Nemec in the 2022 NHL Draft and getting goalie Vitek Vanecek via trade. But now comes the most crucial time for Tom Fitzgerald to improve this roster. However, there is one player the Devils must consider once FA opens. Johnny Gaudreau is one of the biggest FA that is on the market this year.  After missing out on Alex DeBrincat, getting Gaudreau would be really huge for the Devils. Here are a few questions about Gaudreau that can get answered before Wednesday.

Will the Devils Outbid the Flyers and Others to Sign Johnny Gaudreau?

Gaudreau is coming off his 9th season in Calgary, and it was his best season with 115 points. However, general manager Brad Trevling is currently unwilling to pay Gaudreau an extension primarily due to their cap situation. Now, as a FA, Gaudreau will be looking to become a significant piece to a franchise. For the Devils, this would be the perfect opportunity to get a potential left-wing to add to a franchise that desperately needs it. From what it looks like, the Devils have the advantage; they have the cap to sign him, Gaudreau is from New Jersey, plus they seem to have the most interest. Tom Fitzgerald also had talks with Trevling before the draft started. According to reporter Bruce Garrioch, the Devils offered the 2nd overall pick for Matthew Tkachuk. While the trade never happened, it doesn’t mean that Fitzgerald would fight to get someone like Gaudreau. But there is one rival competitor that might try to one-up them.

The Flyers are the other team that wants to sign Johnny Gaudreau. They will fight hard to do so as well. Many say that Gaudreau will go to Philadelphia because he was born in Salem, NJ and went to high school in Glouchester City, which is not that far from Philadelphia.

However, there is one big issue that the Flyers have, which may give the Devils an advantage. The Flyers don’t have much cap space, and since they signed Tony DeAngelo to a two-year, $10 million contract, they look less likely to sign Gaudreau. However, the Flyers can still shed some contracts to get the cap they need, like James van Riemsdyk. However, the other team that might be big on Gaudreau is the Islanders. While it’s unclear how Lou Lamoriello can get him, you may not be surprised if he goes after him as well. I believe that the Devils will push their most vigorous efforts to make sure their rivals don’t sign him.

If the Devils Lose Out on Johnny Gaudreau, Who Else Can They Target?

Let’s say the Flyers or Islanders do get Gaudreau. What do the Devils do now? Many targets are still out there, and if the Devils play their cards right, they can get them. First up is Andre Burakovsky. Burakovsky had just recently won a Stanley Cup with the Avalanche. Last season, Burakovsky scored 61 points with the Avalanche last year and had 8 points last year with the Avs on their cup run. Burkavosky is an LW, which, as I mentioned earlier, the Devils need badly. Plus, he has the veteran ship that the Devils could use more on the team. He will undoubtedly be a perfect alternative if the Devils miss out on Gaudreau.

The next player, the Devils, should target is Sonny Milano. Milano was placed on the market after the Anaheim Ducks skipped on his qualifying offer. Last season, Milano scored 34 points with the Ducks and was the best left-winger on the team. While he may not be one of the biggest free agents out there this year, he could get picked up by the Devils, and it would still be a good move.

Finally, the other big move the Devils can make is not a free agent. Vladimir Tarasenko has been with the St. Louis Blues for ten years and is still very good. Put up 82 points this year and can be a massive addition to a line with Jack Hughes. In fact, one of our writers did an article on this very idea.

According to Dave Pagnotta, Fitzgerald and Blues GM Doug Armstrong were talking during the draft. Whether that had to do with a draft trade or a deal that could happen, we never know, but we know he was willing to talk to him. If he can get to speak to him again, there could be a possibility of a Tarasenko trade. Now what the Devils could give the Blues, that’s up to what Fitzy thinks makes a fair deal. These players could make the Devils missing out on Gaudreau less painful.