New Jersey Devils: 5 Free Agents to Target in the Offseason

Robert TheodorsonSenior Analyst IMarch 25, 2012

New Jersey Devils: 5 Free Agents to Target in the Offseason

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    During the summer, New Jersey will have quite a bit of cap room to replenish and recreate their roster as deemed fit.

    This article explores who we can expect to see back next year and who will leave.

    A huge part of free agency is spending the right amount of dollars for players who will fit into your system and grow around the team's identity.

    A general manager must look at veterans and see what made them successful on their old teams, and if that skill will apply to their new eventual homes.

    Overpaying for free agents that do not fit can devastate teams and tie up important money that can hinder the progress of a club for multiple years.

    The following lists five players who are suited to become Devils this summer.

What We Can Expect the Roster to Look Like After the Draft

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    I want to make one point clear off the bat—the Devils are still on the hook to surrender a first-round draft pick to the NHL for the Ilya Kovalchuk trade.

    I believe this upcoming draft will be the year the Devils will decide to surrender that pick should they make it past the first round of the playoffs, thus giving them a pick in the 20-30 range.

    We are unlikely to see another Adam Larsson anytime soon. Someone who was taken in the first round and immediately jumped into the NHL without any time in the minors.

    Bryce Salvador, currently at a $2.9 million cap hit, is unlikely to be signed.

    Petr Sykora is currently paid $650,000—I suspect the Devils will bring him back at a $1 million, one-year contract.

    Martin Brodeur and Johan Hedberg are impending unrestricted free agents. Hedberg will be re-signed at his current contract and Brodeur will take another one for the team and take a 50-percent pay cut for one, or hopefully two years at $2.6 million.

    Alexi Ponikarovsky will not be re-signed, freeing up another $1.5 million.

    The Devils currently hold two roster spots for enforcers. Cam Janssen will not be re-signed, and Eric Boulton will either have his final year bought out or be placed in the minors.

    Steve Bernier has earned a new contract, but it is likely to be a two-way deal. I don't think there will be any serious interest in him from other teams next year.

    The buyouts of Andrew Peters and Jay Pandolfo will end, saving the team around $1 million in cap space.

    Ryan Carter will be let go to test free agency.

    Finally, Zach Parise will be re-signed. Guessing Parise's contract is taking a shot in the dark but I'm guessing the Devils offer the exact same deal Kovalchuk got.

Dominic Moore

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    A versatile center who has had some decent years, Dominic Moore should be a prime candidate to replace Ryan Carter and provide center depth.

    Moore has had a rough season split between the dreadful Tampa Bay Lightning and San Jose Sharks.

    Last year, Moore had a career year for scoring as the Lightning's third-line pivot, scoring 18 goals and getting 14 assists.

    Moore is a good two-way center who is best suited for fourth-line duties but could handle the checking line with ease.

    Dominic will be 32 in August, and at a relatively young age, he should be signed to a two-year deal on the cheap.

Ruslan Fedotenko

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    Fedetenko is suffering through one of his worst seasons as an NHLer.

    Having said that, nobody really expects much from the Ukrainian during the regular season—it's the postseason where he makes his money.

    Teams that go deep in the playoffs see results from Fedotenko, as he has captured Cups with the Tampa Bay Lightning and Pittsburgh Penguins.

    Due to his subpar year, Fedotenko is likely to come cheap to whoever courts him.

    Since the decisions that were made to play Kovalchuk at right wing and Patrik Elias at center, the Devils have lost some depth at left wing.

    Fedotenko is a fine fourth-line winger who can also move up to the third line for limited duties.

Adam Burish

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    As stated earlier, it is my belief that Devils fans will not see Eric Boulton or Cam Janssen next year.

    Neither player has any skill in terms of offense or even defense.

    So why not add a player where you can keep the physical intimidation factor and add some skill at the same time?

    Burish fits the bill nicely.

    Currently getting paid just over a million per year, it would not surprise anyone if his next team signed him for cheaper. Burish is a feisty player who has won a Cup.

    A potential replacement for the two thugs, should right-winger Steve Bernier chose not to come back to the Devils, Burish would be a decent enough replacement for him as well.

Brad Stuart

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    While it is unlikely that the Devils could land a free agent of Stuart's quality, it is more of a reality than the pipe dream of acquiring Nashville's Ryan Suter.

    The Devils need another quality defenseman, and nobody would be surprised if Henrik Tallinder was moved this summer.

    If Nicklas Lidstrom retires this summer, the Red Wings have a lot of potential money to throw at Stuart, but so do the Devils should he decide greener pastures are to be found elsewhere.

    Stuart brings a physically intimidating game and can put up good numbers for someone who is so reliable in his own zone.

Mikael Samuelsson

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    The aging Swedish journeyman has played for some fantastic Detroit Red Wings and Vancouver Canucks teams in recent years.

    At the beginning of the season, Samuelsson unexpectedly found himself in Florida, the land devoid of the playoff hockey he was accustomed to.

    Samuelsson and company have turned things around in Florida, and Mikael is proving that at 35 he can still play great hockey.

    The Devils need Samuelsson, and Samuelsson needs the Devils.

    A defensive-minded forward, Samuelsson would fit into any classic Devils system as a penalty-killing forward who can provide anywhere from 10 to 25 goals if given enough ice time.

    The Devils have been stockpiling Swedes as of late, something the Canucks and Red Wings have done in years past, and there's no reason he wouldn't be a great fit.