Every year, the New Jersey Devils let some players walk away in free agency or end contracts early, and it falls under the radar. This year is no different.
Remember Brett Seney? The former New Jersey Devils forward was a mainstay in the AHL, and he was even given a long-term look in the NHL in 2018-19. He seemed like he’d be a player that would always be around. The organization liked him, and he was giving them enough at the minor league level to warrant a roster spot. Then, one day he was gone.
He made our list of players who some fans might not realize aren’t in the organization anymore. He was joined by Josh Jacobs, Nick Merkley, and Connor Carrick. These are players who made an impact on the team in some way, but we didn’t really notice when a team signed them away. The same goes for this offseason. While we are well aware that Ty Smith is now playing in Pittsburgh and P.K. Subban is going to find a new home soon, there are others we aren’t sure aren’t here until the Devils take the ice in the preseason.
Janne Kuokkanen had one of the most precipitous falls we’ve seen in a long time for this franchise. He was on the first line with Yegor Sharangovich and Jack Hughes in the COVID-shortened 2021 season. They were the team’s first line for most of that season and were pretty successful. That led to the Devils signing him to a two-year deal worth $1.825 million AAV. He got through one year of that deal before the Devils realize they made a mistake.
The Devils bought out Kuokkanen this offseason. They needed to make some salary cap space and the team just needed more space on the roster. Kuokkanen did not contribute like the Devils hoped last year, and now he’s no longer a part of the Devils’ future.
It turns out that Kuokkanen left the NHL altogether. He signed with the HC Fribourg-Gottéron of the Finnish National League. He went back to his home country after a very volatile few years in North America. The Devils got Kuokkanen in the Sami Vatanen trade, and he at least contributed some, but the Devils very quietly let him go.