5 Mistakes New Jersey Devils and Tom Fitzgerald Must Avoid This Offseason

The New Jersey Devils are facing their most important offseason in a long time. There are some mistakes Tom Fitzgerald must avoid at all costs.
2023 Upper Deck NHL Draft - Rounds 2-7
2023 Upper Deck NHL Draft - Rounds 2-7 / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages
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3. Re-Sign Brendan Smith

On this week’s Let’s Go Devils Podcast, the topic of Brendan Smith’s contract came up. There, the discussion turned to the one scenario where signing Brendan Smith makes sense. If they sign him to be the Devils 13th forward and some penalty kill duties, then sure. However, we don’t trust the Devils to avoid playing Smith on defense for large stretches of the season.

Smith is incredible in the room, a great leader, a smart player, and a fantastic interview. These are qualities that the Devils should prioritize. Unfortunately, Smith just isn’t good in any role on the defensive end. His drop in skillset has caused mistakes. He takes too many penalties, and while he knows where he’s supposed to be on the ice, he has trouble getting there at times.

Smith had 20 minor penalties taken at 5v5 according to Natural Stat Trick. What’s worse is he took three more minor penalties while he was killing a penalty, pushing the Devils to a 5on3 disadvantage. 

We are all preparing for the announcement that the Devils are re-signing Smith. It’s something that just shouldn’t happen, but we worry Fitzgerald will fall into the pitfall. Unless there is understanding across the board about what the Devils should do with Smith on the ice, he should play someone else next year.