4 Conference Finals players who could be New Jersey Devils next season

Each of the four remaining playoff teams will have to make difficult roster decisions to return to where they are next season. Who could find their way into the New Jersey Devils lineup after a shorter offseason?
Edmonton Oilers v Dallas Stars - Game Two
Edmonton Oilers v Dallas Stars - Game Two / Matthew Stockman/GettyImages
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While the parity provided by the salary cap era of the NHL may be overstated slightly, the realities presented by the years of salary cap stagnation can no longer be ignored by contending teams. Every summer, the teams vying for an elusive Stanley Cup victory must restart the delicate balancing act of resigning core players while making difficult decisions to let key playoff contributors walk away in free agency or an offseason trade.

This year, each of the four remaining teams in the postseason (the Stars, Oilers, Rangers, and Panthers) have key pending restricted and unrestricted free agents who may not be returning to their teams next year.

With that in mind, let's take a look at one player from each of the Conference Championship contenders that could find their way onto the New Jersey Devils opening day lineup next season.

Chris Tanev - Dallas Stars (UFA)

A portion of his salary cap is already on the New Jersey Devils' books from this past season when the Calgary Flames laundered Chris Tanev's salary through the Devils on his way to joining the Stars in exchange for a fourth-round draft pick.

Now that the defenseman is a pending unrestricted free agent, though, the Devils should circle back and bring him back onto the roster for longer than the milliseconds he spent there this season. The 34-year-old is likely to see a substantial raise over his $4.45 million AAV on his next contract, but in a relatively short term (three or fewer years), he makes all the sense in the world for the Devils.

He brings a grit and toughness to the back end that none of last season's Devils defensemen (Brendan Smith aside) brought, and he is widely considered a beloved teammate and consummate professional. He'd instantly reshape the vibes of this Devils team and would be worth $6 million or so annually.