Nashville Predators snipe New Jersey Devils forward targets in NHL Free Agency

After the New Jersey Devils were expected to sign one of the biggest free agents on the market on Monday, the Nashville Predators swooped in and gave him, along with Steven Stamkos, as massive deal.
Vegas Golden Knights v New Jersey Devils
Vegas Golden Knights v New Jersey Devils / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages

It was set up to be a very exciting day for New Jersey Devils fans. NHL Free Agency on July 1st is always a wild and crazy few hours. Devils fans woke up to the news that the Devils were going hard for four major free-agent targets. It sounds like they will succeed in their push for defensemen Brendan Dillon and Brett Pesce, but their pursuit of forwards did not go as well.

Two of the biggest free agents on the market are former Tampa Bay Lightning center Steven Stamkos and former Vegas Golden Knights winger Jonathan Marchessault. The Devils saw the news breakers tie them to both players. They couldn't afford both players at the same time, but one or the other made a lot of sense to bolster the top six.

Then, Nashville came. And they brought their wallet.

The Nashville Predators knew what they had to do. They had to give huge deals to both Stamkos and Marchessault to add them both. It was a competitive move to push this team to the next step. Will the Predators be Stanley Cup contenders with these moves? It's hard to say that, but they are definitely better today than they were yesterday.

The Devils now have to lick their wounds and see what else is out there. The wingers are coming off the board quickly, as even former Devils winger Tyler Toffoli is signing a massive deal with the San Jose Sharks.

New Jersey Devils lose out on two major free agent targets after the Nashville Predators swoop in.

It's hard to not think of this as a loss. The Stamkos contract is nutty and he's getting paid on name value with that deal (a deal the Devils couldn't afford), but the Marchessault deal is absolutely something the Devils could handle. Were they worried about the term after what this Ondrej Palat contract has looked like? Maybe, but the Devils are trying to win a Cup after a year where they missed the playoffs. It takes big swings to get these types of free agents.

There are still free agents available, and the Devils could also join the trade market once again (Shane Pinto?), but this hurts to see the Devils so entrenched in these names and lose out on them all. It will be a good day overall (especially if an Adam Henrique return is in the works), but we can mourn the loss of Marchessault for now.