New Jersey Devils dodge many bullets as NHL Free Agency Begins

The New Jersey Devils were linked to many names before the free agency window opened on Canada Day. As the dust slowly settles, the Devils missed out on a few big names on the market. As of right now, that may be a good thing.
Carolina Hurricanes v Philadelphia Flyers
Carolina Hurricanes v Philadelphia Flyers / Tim Nwachukwu/GettyImages
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The New Jersey Devils did what was expected of them, signing defensemen Brett Pesce and Brenden Dillon while also adding forward Stefan Noesen. Going into the day, they were also connected to Steven Stamkos and Jonathan Marchessault. However, both of those players signed with Tom Fitzgerald's friend Barry Trotz in Nashville. While it may be a negative at first glance, the Devils dodged a few bullets in free agency today.

The Devils need a top-six winger to complement their depth down the middle in Nico Hischier and Jack Hughes. Stamkos and Marchessault could have fit the bill. However, both players are 34 years old and received long-term contracts. The Devils could not do that, as they have a few things to handle down the line.

The Predators got better today. However, in two or three years, those contracts could easily age like milk. The Devils avoided massive bullets by not signing those two players. We would have a very different conversation if Nashville had signed either of those players to two-year contracts. With Luke Hughes, Simon Nemec, and a goalie needed in the future, not giving those contracts out now is a good thing.

While they missed out on a top-six winger, something that they do need, the trade market is the more likely route, with Dawson Mercer still needing a contract. Devils fans should also be happy about the addition of Stefan Noesen. He provides depth in the bottom-six forward core and will do what the Devils wanted Nate Bastian to do on the power play.

With all of the massive contracts given out, it was wise the Devils did not give out one of those massive deals to middle six forwards. The only player on the market that should have warranted a massive contract would have been Jake Guentzel, and he got that big deal. The point of the Devil's core is that they are all locked up long-term, and when their deals end, they will still be in their prime. Many contracts given out on July 1st will end with players out of their prime.

The only deal that should be questioned is Brenden Dillon. He was overpaid a little bit at $4 million AAV, but he is a player the Devils desperately needed. Someone who will add snarl on the backend and step in for teammates who are taken advantage of. The way Dillon plays justifies the contract. The Devils had a good day today, even if it does not feel like it.

There is still plenty of time before training camp starts and it is very possible Tom Fitzgerald adds a top-six winger via trade with some salary retained. A player like Patrik Laine or Nikolaj Ehlers would come to mind. At the end of the first day of free agency, the Devils became a much better all around team.

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