6 Moves New Jersey Devils Must Make To Have A Perfect Offseason

The 2023-24 season has gone worse than anyone could have imagined. With eyes now looking toward the offseason and the 2024-25 season, we lay out a way-too-early plan for Tom Fitzgerald.

San Jose Sharks v New Jersey Devils
San Jose Sharks v New Jersey Devils / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages
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Sign Free Agent Defenseman Chad Ruhwedel to 1 Year, $1.1 Million AAV Contract

The Brendan Smith era is coming to an end, and it's time to find a new depth defenseman. The Devils could probably take a bigger swing for a defenseman, but it would mean demoting one of the younger players or moving off of a veteran like John Marino or Jonas Siegenthaler. What should, and likely will happen, is Dougie Hamilton comes back from injury, and Luke Hughes, Simon Nemec, and Kevin Bahl take steps forward and improve the defense. That still leaves room for a seventh defenseman who can do a job in a pinch.

Ideally, Santeri Hatakka comes in and earns that spot, but it probably makes more sense to bring in a veteran. As we've seen with Smith over the last two seasons, that seventh defenseman is more important than people realize. This is exactly why someone like Chad Ruhwedel would be an under-the-radar great addition. He brings no offense but has fantastic underlying defensive and penalty-killing numbers.

Ruhwedel is currently coming off of a two-year deal that paid him just $800,000 AAV, so he shouldn't sign for much more. He's made a career as a solid bottom-pair/seventh defenseman, and for just a little over $1 million he could do the job.

Salary Cap Space Remaining: $4.45 million