5 last-minute things to know as New Jersey Devils begin free agency frenzy

The New Jersey Devils made moves during the NHL Draft to free up some cap space, and now they can shop during NHL Free Agency. As we hit July 1, here is what you need to know before the frenzy begins.
2024 Upper Deck NHL Draft, Rounds 2-7
2024 Upper Deck NHL Draft, Rounds 2-7 / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages
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Steven Stamkos

This one feels bizarre, but there is very little smoke around Steven Stamkos and the New Jersey Devils. However, little smoke is much more smoke than we expected to see at this point. Most thought Stamkos would eventually find a price and term that made sense to stay in Tampa, but it just didn't seem like they wanted it. Instead, they signed the biggest free agent coming to market, Jake Guentzel.

Just about every rumor we’re hearing right now has Stamkos tied to the Nashville Predators, even though that doesn’t make a ton of sense unless Stamkos is looking to make as much money as possible before the end of his career. Nashville doesn’t seem like the spot for a player trying to win championships to build his legacy, but we also didn’t think that about Ryan O’Reilly after he signed with Nashville last offseason. 

Still, the Devils do make sense if Stamkos is looking to play with youth who can lift the final years of his career. He likely gets to play alongside Jack Hughes for the first few years before settling into a middle-six role (depending on how long the contract would be for). That has to be enticing. 

We shall see, as the Devils can’t really afford to give Stamkos the money he was making before. They’d be looking at closer to half of that. It would still be better than the reported contract the Lightning offer, which was just insulting.