New Jersey Devils and Vegas Golden Knights are poised to make a deal

The Vegas Golden Knights will be in serious cap trouble this summer. The New Jersey Devils have enough cap space to make some big moves. Tom Fitzgerald should give them a call and see if they can make a deal.
New Jersey Devils v Vegas Golden Knights
New Jersey Devils v Vegas Golden Knights / Candice Ward/GettyImages

The New Jersey Devils enter what may be the most important offseason in recent franchise memory. The first order of business will be getting a new coach in the door. However, the important decisions don't stop there for GM Tom Fitzgerald. Unlike last year, he only has one major re-signing to take care of, Dawson Mercer. The external additions will make or break how successful we view this summer.

There will be plenty of opportunities to improve the roster this summer. They'll have the 10th overall pick in the NHL Draft to add a talented young player to the prospect pool. They'll also have enough ammunition to spend a little bit of money in free agency (the Devils currently have just under $20 million in cap space). With all this in play, the Devils can best take advantage of the trade market. Plenty of teams will be pressed against the cap, and one in particular stands out the most: the Vegas Golden Knights.

Vegas has yet again used LTIR to add high-end talent to the roster to make another playoff run. With that comes a few consequences. One of which is a lack of cap space once the offseason hits. Before the Trade Deadline, Vegas added forward Tomas Hertl and his $6.75 million cap hit for the next six seasons, as well as adding and extending defenseman Noah Hanifin for $7.35 million for the next eight years.

They'll enter the offseason with just $897,516 in cap space according to CapFriendly. This includes Alec Martinez ($5.25 million), Jonathan Marchessault ($5 million), Anthony Mantha ($2.85 million), Chandler Stephenson ($2.75 million), and William Carrier ($1.4 million) coming off the books. Vegas will either have to operate on that incredibly thin shoe-string budget or move off of a few players to give themselves breathing room.

Enter the New Jersey Devils. The Devils only have Dawson Mercer requiring a somewhat big extension. What the Devils also have are a few needs that Vegas could potentially fill.

Starting with the pie-in-the-sky target the Devils should at least call on Stanley Cup hero Adin Hill. The Devils number one need this summer is goaltending, and there are few better in the league than Hill. What makes this anywhere in the realm of possibility is that Vegas has turned to Logan Thompson in goal in the playoffs. Thompson also outplayed Hill 46 games to 35.

This makes sense for Vegas because clearing Hill's $4.9 million off the books next season while Thompson continues to make $766,667 will help them immensely. Vegas would likely get back a nice haul of picks, prospects, and possibly young and cheap roster players while still maintaining a number-one caliber goalie in Thompson.

Next on the list of Devils needs that Vegas can fill is on the backend. With the arrival of Hanifin on a long-term contract, that leaves an odd man out. There are two players that make the most sense for Vegas to move: Shea Theodore and Brayden McNabb. The Devils have had issues on defense, and in particular, on the left side, a gap that either Theodore or McNabb can fill. Both have one more year left on their contract, but Theodore carries a hefty $5.2 million cap hit compared to McNabb's $2.85 million.

It's probably unwise for Fitzgerald to run it back with the same defensive group, given their immense struggles this past year. Both players give the Devils incredible depth on the left side of their defense, which was particularly bad this year. Theodore would be a "slam dunk" addition on the back end and would immediately start on the Devils top pairing. McNabb, meanwhile, would give a player like Kevin Bahl strong competition for the third-pairing job, as well as provide a capable body on the penalty kill. Either way, either of those two players would make the Devils defensive unit a much more formidable force than last season.

Finally, where the Golden Knights can also help the Devils out is in the bottom six, in particular at 3C. Nicolas Roy is the name that sticks out the most as someone Vegas may try and move this summer. He is making $3 million a year for the next three years, which is a hefty price to pay for a third liner. Vegas could easily replace Roy with a younger player like Brendan Brisson or David Edstrom, who they acquired in the Hertl trade. For the Devils, Roy slides right into the 3C hole that Michael McLeod left, giving the Devils immediate strong depth down the middle. He has been a consistent 30+ point player over the last three years and brings the size and speed Fitzgerald covets in players.

The great unknown is the asking price for all of these players. However, Vegas may be forced to at least entertain trades, given their current financial situation. They're in line to lose a lot of very good players, and Vegas management will have to make tough decisions once their season ends. As for the Devils, all of these players mentioned above bring a ton of value one way or another. Hill would be the most costly, but for a number one goalie, it's worth it. As for the others, the Devils ability to take on their full cap hit could be enticing enough for Vegas to make a move. Vegas will be one of the teams to watch this summer, and hopefully, Fitzgerald and the Devils can take advantage of their cap issues.