New Jersey Devils 5 biggest internal contract decisions this offseason

The New Jersey Devils have a boatload on their agenda this offseason, with head coach and goalie still at the top of the list. However, the Devils have plenty of internal decisions they still need to make.
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It’s already been a busy offseason for the New Jersey Devils and they haven’t really done anything yet. While they find themselves steeped in the rumor mill of coaching search, both their 2023-24 head coaches have moved on to other head coaching jobs (Lindy Ruff to the Sabres and Travis Green to the Senators). Obviously, we expect the first major decision this offseason to be the next Devils head coach. 

However, while Tom Fitzgerald is working out a contract for his bench boss, he also has to think about those internal contracts that he needs to set up for the future success of the Devils. This isn’t close to last season when Damon Severson, Ryan Graves, Miles Wood, Nathan Bastian, Erik Haula, Jesper Bratt, Timo Meier, Tomas Tatar, Yegor Sharangovich and more all needed new contracts. Fitzgerald only brought four of the above players back this season.

The Devils really felt the turnover this past season. Luckily, the Devils aren’t facing anything near that this season. The core is signed, sealed, and delivered for years to come. However, the Devils still have major decisions on how they will build around that core. What contract decisions are keeping Tom Fitzgerald up at night? Well… probably none of them, but they are still important. 

5. Kaapo Kahkonen

The Devils pulled off a magic trick when they turned Vitek Vanecek and a seventh-round pick into Kaapo Kahkonen. It wasn’t that Kahkonen was a great player (but more on that in a second), but it got the Devils out of a $3+ million contract for this season. Kahkonen is a free agent this offseason, and it seems unlikely that he'll be re-signed.

However, should it be? The Devils do have Jake Allen signed for another season, but the numbers show that Kahkonen outplayed Allen. Five goalies played for the Devils this season. Kahkonen’s save percentage was 23 percentage points higher than anyone (.923 with the Devils against Allen’s .900). 

It seems like an obvious move to let Kahkonen leave, but the Devils have had such issues in net, they should see if he’d accept a non-traditional as a third goalie. Even if the Devils slightly overspent on that role (maybe $1.5 million) and guaranteed he’d be on the NHL roster all season, it would be worth it. The Devils do need all the money they can get for a true starter, bottom-six help, and an extra defenseman, but signing Kahkonen to a contract shouldn’t impact that.