3. Avoid Overpaying Wingers
Everyone knows where this one is going. Timo Meier and Jesper Bratt are the most important negotiations this summer. The Devils are hoping to keep them under a combined $16 million AAV, but realistically, the AAV needs to be under $18 million. Ideally, they keep these contracts under $17 million. It would be great for them to sign team-friendly deals, but if that was the case, it would have happened by now.
If the Devils somehow go over $18 million for both Meier and Bratt on really long-term deals, it will make things very hard down the line. It will be fine next season. The Devils have $34 million in cap space. Losing about half of that still gives them enough space to sign all the important free agents and add the necessary components.
Where it hurts is down the line. Luke Hughes will need a contract in two years. Dawson Mercer needs a contract next offseason. If Akira Schmid takes over the starting goalie role, he will need a new contract. This all gets hard with the Devils dwindling cap space.
On top of Meier and Bratt, the Devils need to avoid a bad contract with the remaining winger spots. That includes Tomas Tatar, who is an unrestricted free agent. Could the Devils afford to repeat the contract the Devils gave Tatar two years ago? What about Ryan O’Reilly? He’s technically a center, but he might play some wing in this offense. Are there other UFAs the Devils could target? If they do, Tom Fitzgerald has to avoid any contract over two years.