5 New Jersey Devils players who won’t return next season

The New Jersey Devils need some retooling, given their lack of success in 2023-24. That said, quite a few players won’t return in 2024-25.

San Jose Sharks v New Jersey Devils
San Jose Sharks v New Jersey Devils / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages
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Brendan Smith made for an adequate two-year stopgap but it’s time to move on

In 2022, Brendan Smith was a reasonable signing for Fitzgerald, and he has stuck around for a pair of seasons, appearing in 60 games last year and 54 this season as of March 29th. Smith, as he had done in previous stops, primarily played third-pairing minutes, and he’s been a stay-at-home, physical force for the Devils. 

The 35-year-old has also gotten in front of over one would-be shot on goal per game with 77 blocks so far this season, but a few of his metrics have taken a hit. No, the Devils aren’t anywhere near what they were defensively last year, but it still doesn’t justify a freefall in Smith’s possession quality, which sits at minus-2.0, a far cry from the 8.9 he enjoyed in 2022-23. 

To be fair, his current number is nowhere near a career-low, but it’s also by far his largest drop-off from one season to the next. You can also blame New Jersey’s defensive struggles for his all-time-low on-ice save percentage at 5-on-5, which has fallen below 90 percent for the first time in his career. But then again, Smith must take responsibility for that drop-off, too.

The Devils also need to take the opportunity to get younger, as mentioned earlier in this slideshow, so as with Tomas Nosek, they should have no problem allowing Smith to walk this summer.