Assessing Every New Jersey Devils Move and Non-Move In NHL Free Agency

New Jersey Devils center Michael McLeod (20): Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports
New Jersey Devils center Michael McLeod (20): Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports /

The New Jersey Devils did a lot of their moves before free agency started on July 1st. With a young team who is now a contender, we really did not expect a lot to happen. They ended up letting a few players hit free agency, and decisions were made whether it was bringing them back or letting them go. Let’s assess Tom Fitzgerald’s decisions to start the offseason.

Micheal McLeod

Re-signed: One year, $1.4 million

This is a great deal. It might be a little surprising he did not get a second year despite being a fourth-line player. His penalty-kill ability and being a league leader in faceoffs means he brings so much more to the table than your average fourth-liner. It will be great to see him again in Devils colors.

Assessment: Great deal by the Devils

Nathan Bastian

Re-signed: Two years $1.35 million/season

Pretty much what was expected here, since my prediction was two years at $1.2 million per season. Big Bastian is the most physical guy on the team and like McLeod, he can kill penalties which is a big deal for guys who will probably be looking at 11-12 minutes a game with how stacked this team is offensively.

Assessment: Great deal by the Devils.

Ryan Graves

Signed with Penguins: Six years at $4.5 million/season

Expectedly, Ryan Graves walked in free agency. While he was a great defender in New Jersey, this team has a lot of good young defenders coming up. Signing him long-term would have been the wrong move. $4.5 million is fair value for what he brought, but the term will hurt the Penguins before the contract is up. Graves foot speed is a half step from being an issue and when his contract is over he will be 34 and probably bought out or a guy on a full rebuild team.

Assessment: Right move by NJ

Miles Wood

Signed with Avalanche: Six years at $2.5 million/season

If the Avalanche get prime Miles Wood, this contract would be a steal. However, this guy has been so inconsistent for so long that this is a baffling contract from the Avalanche. It is rare to see a 3rd or 4th liner get such a long-term, even at a low number. We expected Wood to sign a show-me deal.

Assessment: Right move by NJ

Grading Every New Jersey Devils Draft Pick. dark. Next

As of the time of this writing, Tomas Tatar and Jesper Boqvist remain unsigned. It looks like neither will be returning which is just fine. Though, with the right numbers either would fit in just fine. Other than this the Devils have made a bunch of small minor league moves, but the team has done exactly what they needed to do which is believe in what this team has now and for the future. They didn’t make the mistake so many do of locking up guys long-term or panic buying because a rival made a move which is great to see from general manager Tom Fitzgerald.