New Jersey Devils Offseason Wishlist Goes Well Beyond A Goalie

The New Jersey Devils are currently in the market for a goalie. Even though getting a goalie is important, they still need to improve their roster in other areas if they want to be true contenders nex
Pittsburgh Penguins v New Jersey Devils
Pittsburgh Penguins v New Jersey Devils / Elsa/GettyImages

The New Jersey Devils are once again linked to a goalie that might be available this offseason. It's been widely reported that the team is interested in 34-year-old goalie Jacob Markstrom. While he might not be the best available goalie statistically, he's still a solid choice. He led the league in shutouts (nine) during the 2021-22 season and finished second in the Vezina Trophy race. He also had 26 quality starts this past season, which ranked him in the top 25 in the NHL.

Make no mistake the Devils certainly need an upgrade in net. A tandem of Jake Allen and Kaapo Kahkonen probably won't get you very far in the playoffs. However, the Devils will need a little more than just an upgrade at goalie if they want to contend. Former Devils goalie and current radio color commentator Chico Resch appeared on the Locked On Devils Podcast in January and provided a unique perspective.

"Let's go back to last year's playoffs. You like Connor Hellebuyck? Winnipeg went out in the first round. You like [Igor] Shesterkin? They [New York] went out in the first round. You like [Andrei] Vasilevskiy? They [Tampa Bay] went out in the first round. You like the two Boston goalies [Linus Ullmark & Jeremy Swayman]? They went out in the first round."

Chico Resch, Locked On Devils (January)

The point that Resch was trying to make was that despite the Winnipeg Jets, New York Rangers, Tampa Bay Lightning, and Boston Bruins all having strong goalies, each of them was still eliminated in the first round during last year's playoffs. Aiden Hill was the starting goalie for the Vegas Golden Knights, who were the champions in 2023. Hill has always been a solid goalie but never really got the credit he deserved. Mainly because he played for the Arizona Coyotes and San Jose Sharks, two lackadaisical teams, before joining the Golden Knights. When it comes to winning consistently, having a good support system in front of your goalie is imperative.

A good example would be the Florida Panthers, who have a good shot at winning the Stanley Cup Final on Tuesday. Sergei Bobrovsky is a two-time Vezina Trophy winner, but the players in front of him are amazing as well. Matthew Tkachuk could someday win the Hart Trophy, Sasha Barkov is now a two-time Selke winner, and Aaron Ekblad is an underrated defenseman. Outside of those players, Sam Reinhart led the team in points, Carter Verhaeghe is a solid contributor, and Vladimir Tarasenko was a good addition at the trade deadline. Overall, the Panthers are a well-oiled machine and play "bully-style" hockey.

Going back to Resch's initial example, the reason why the Tampa Bay Lightning appeared in three straight Stanley Cup Finals (2020-2022) wasn't just because of Vasilevskiy (2019 Vezina winner). Some of the other pillars on that roster included Nikita Kucherov (2019 Hart winner), Victor Hedman (2018 Norris winner), captain Steven Stamkos, Brayden Point, and even current Devil Ondrej Palat (at least during the playoffs). Even though the Lightning aren't as dominant as they once were, they still have two championships within the past five seasons.

When looking at the Devils' current roster, they do need to upgrade their goaltending tandem. However, when it comes to forwards, they need to somehow replace Michael McLeod's production on the bottom six. They must add more experience, toughness, and depth to their blueline. Losing players Damon Severson, Ryan Graves, and Colin Miller has hurt them. Pucks & Pitchforks asked Tom Fitzgerald about his plans for the future after the Sheldon Keefe press conference. He said that the organization is currently taking "baby steps." This offseason might get interesting for New Jersey.