New Jersey Devils: 5 Players Tom Fitzgerald Luckily Avoided

COLUMBUS, OHIO - OCTOBER 28: Johnny Gaudreau #13 of the Columbus Blue Jackets warms up before a game against the New York Islanders at Nationwide Arena on October 28, 2023 in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Mowry/Getty Images)
COLUMBUS, OHIO - OCTOBER 28: Johnny Gaudreau #13 of the Columbus Blue Jackets warms up before a game against the New York Islanders at Nationwide Arena on October 28, 2023 in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Mowry/Getty Images) /
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There are always rumors tied to the New Jersey Devils. Tom Fitzgerald is always in on the big name. However, there are some moves many thought he would make, or even some he almost made, that ended up being a disaster avoided.

Things have been a little rough to start the season for the New Jersey Devils. Saturday’s loss to the New York Rangers was the icing on the cake of the first 20% of the season. It has gone bad, but looking at some of the “what ifs” of the Tom Fitzgerald era, it could have gone so much worse. Due to the Devils seemingly endless amount of cap space (which is gone now) and their top prospect pool, the Devils have been tied to many of the top names in the game.

While some have been pipe dreams (William Nylander and Mitch Marner highest among them), others seemed like they were right on track. Many factors changed history. Sometimes the Devils were never actually interested, reporters were just trying to connect the dots. Other times, the Devils went for it, but the player was just not interested in New Jersey.

In both cases, the Devils were lucky said player ended up somewhere else. For every Artemi Panarin and Dougie Hamilton deal that works as expected, there’s the Jeff Skinner who becomes an anchor to the cap when it’s time to pay the stars. Which players especially come to mind as the good kind of miss?

New Jersey Devils
New Jersey Devils left wing Taylor Hall (9): Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports /

Honorable Mention: Taylor Hall

This wasn’t Fitzgerald, so we put this in honorable mention, but the Devils were literally saved by the Collective Bargaining Agreement. Then-GM Ray Shero would have given Taylor Hall a blank check after he won the MVP in 2018. The Devils were likely looking at a salary in the $11 million range. Instead, Hall went into the next season with a weaker team expecting better results. He got hurt, and the Devils did not negotiate an extension the next offseason as he recovered.

The Devils put their chips on the table the next season, drafting Jack Hughes, signing Wayne Simmonds, and trading for P.K. Subban and Nikita Gusev. None of it worked in 2019, so the Devils traded Hall to the Arizona Coyotes. If the Devils signed Hall in that MVP season, he’d still have three years left on the deal after this season. Clearly, Hall is nowhere near that player anymore, and he’s about in the proper price range ($6 million).