The New Jersey Devils have a very important offseason ahead of them. We’ve pointed it out time and time again. It cannot be said enough. We’ve seen how one bad offseason can have a domino event on the franchise’s compete window. In 2018, the Devils made the playoffs with a young roster, a star in his prime, and the pieces to build a winner. Then, the Devils spent the offseason relying on John Quenneville to take them to the next level. It led to another first-overall pick, and four more years of a rebuild.
This year, the playoff run feels different. For one, the Devils won their first-round series this time around. Also, they finished in second place in the Metropolitan Division, third best in the NHL. In 2018, the Devils barely made the playoffs, the 16th best team in the league.
Still, Tom Fitzgerald has to make the right moves to make this a sustainable winner. Can this become a dynasty? It only happens if the Devils make the right decisions now. If these three things happen, the Devils have a chance to win for the next decade.
1. Make The Right Goalie Decision
The Devils finally found a starting goalie who brought them to the playoffs. Vitek Vanecek was the first goalie since Martin Brodeur to win 30 games in a season. He was never one of the top goalies in the league, but he was good enough to win with a stacked Devils team.
Then, Vanecek was dreadful in the playoffs. The only goalie who had a worse goals saved above average in the playoffs is Jake Oettinger. He only played in seven games because Lindy Ruff benched him for Akira Schmid. Schmid was great in the New York Rangers series, especially in Game 7, where he shut out the Devils rivals. He was less than great in the Hurricanes series.
Now that the Devils are in the offseason, figuring out the goaltending market is a top priority. We’ve said the Devils are fine with Schmid and Vanecek, but the Devils must figure out if fine is good enough. John Gibson and Connor Hellebuyck are likely available through trade. Would it be in the Devils’ best interest to get a superstar?
The issue is if the Devils go after a Hellebuyck or Gibson and they fall off a cliff, it could send the Devils’ plans of winning Stanley Cups into the dirt. That’s why we say make the “right” decision. Doing nothing might be the right decision. Getting Hellebuyck might be the right decision. Unfortunately, we won’t know until one goes wrong.