NHL: Predicting the New Jersey Devils' Offseason, Stage-by-Stage

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NHL: Predicting the New Jersey Devils' Offseason, Stage-by-Stage
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

When the Los Angeles Kings hoisted the Stanley Cup on June 11, I breathed a sigh of relief.

No, I’m not a Kings fan whatsoever. But now that the New Jersey Devils’ season is over, analysts and fans can predict what the offseason will have in store for these New Jersey Devils, rather than the constant nervousness that came with that Stanley Cup series. Similar to most seasons, I do not see a large roster makeover. Let’s see what’s in store for the New Jersey Devils this offseason.

NHL Draft

The Devils surrender their first round pick this year as part of the Ilya Kovalchuk offseason fiasco. I personally know very little about the hopeful draftees this year since the Devils went so far in the playoffs. Therefore, I will not predict their second round pick or anything like that.

Re-Signing Phase

Zach Parise: Signs with NJ for eight years, 68 million dollars ($10,000,000 cap hit). Zach decides to stick with his original team for a large sum of money and Stanley Cup hopes. Devils fans know that he has 80-90 point potential, so an average of 8.5 million a year is a wonderful deal. While it is possible he signs with Detroit, I think he is convinced to not test open waters and stick with New Jersey.

Alexei Ponikarovsky: Declared Free Agent. He was a decent point producer during his short stint in New Jersey, but he could probably receive more money elsewhere, and the Devils shouldn’t commit to him after only 40 games on the team.

Ryan Carter: Signs with NJ for three years, five million dollars ($1,666,667 cap hit). This seems a little bit steep for a fourth liner, but the way that he played in the playoffs makes him nearly irreplaceable. Keep him and the rest of the fourth line in tact for next season.

Petr Sykora: Signs with NJ for one year, $650,000 ($650,000 cap hit). I think Patrik Elias wants him on the team, and his return did help Elias on offense during the playoffs. Not to mention Elias had his best offensive output since 2008-2009, when Elias was merely 32 years old. Sykora played well anyways, with 44 points in 82 games.

Cam Janssen: Declared Free Agent. He’s just not what the Devils need. He’s in the box a lot, not a real helpful player on the ice and never gets any points. He’s just a fighter. I like him, but I think this is the end of his NJ Devils career.

Steve Bernier: Signs with NJ for three years, four million dollars ($1,333,333 cap hit). Same as with Ryan Carter, he was very helpful in the playoffs; hopefully that chemistry is replicated during the regular season to save the team when Parise and Kovalchuk have their slumps.

Stephen Gionta: Signs with NJ for three years, four million dollars ($1,333,333 cap hit). With only $300,000 less per year than Carter, Baby Gio should be on the opening day roster next year. That line has to stay together in order to remain successful—as the old saying goes: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

Mark Fayne: Signs with NJ for two years, 1.75 million dollars ($875,000 cap hit). Fayne has a decent shot from the point and is a physical defenseman on the Devils’ side of the blue line. He should stick around at a reasonable price.

Bryce Salvador: Declared Free Agent. Salvador was an amazing defenseman over the Stanley Cup Playoffs, but he is now 36 years old and will likely haul in one lucrative two year contract with about a four million per year cap hit. Sorry Salvador fans, I don’t think he’ll be in red and black next season.

Peter Harrold: Signs with NJ for two years, 1.2 million dollars ($600,000 cap hit). Harrold is a good passer for a defenseman, but he definitely needs to bulk up so he can have some presence on defense. He does not have the strength to be an NHL defenseman.

Martin Brodeur: Signs with NJ for one year, 2.1 million dollars ($2,100,000 cap hit). Martin Brodeur is the best goalie to ever put on skates, so if he wants to keep playing, it is the Devils’ obligation to pay him. He would easily be the best mentor of a young goalie like Scott Wedgewood or perhaps a Free Agent Signing. He should definitely be back next season.

Johan Hedberg: Declared Free Agent. Unfortunately, the Devils 40-year-old goalie duo will not be in tact because Hedberg is just not what the Devils need. New Jersey needs a young goalie to groom, not a 39 year old with one foot out of the door. So although he’d be a great No. 2 goalie, the Devils say goodbye to Moose.

Then the following AHLers are kept: Vladimir Zharkov (RW), Timo Pilmeier (G), Matt Corrente (D), Matt Taormina (D) and Tim Sestito (C). The following are declared free agents: Brad Mills (C), Kory Nagy (RW) and Jay Leach (D).

Salary Cap Situation

Before they signed their own free agents, the Devils had $28,045,834, according to CapGeek.com. After these predicted signings (not including AHL), the Devils have $9,487,501, which is enough for a few low-key Free Agents.

The Devils’ Needs Heading Into Free Agency

To make this article a little less thought-provoking, I’ve made a table featuring the Devils' lineup for next year. If somebody is in bold letters, that means they are okay in that spot. If somebody is in normal text, it means that they could stay there but isn’t the best fit. If a name is in italics, he should be moved to a different line. If a position is left blank, there is no person playing that position.

Line Number

Left Wing

Center

Right Wing

Line 1 (Scoring)

Zach Parise

Travis Zajac

Ilya Kovalchuk

Line 2 (Scoring)

Blank

Adam Henrique

David Clarkson

Line 3 (Scoring)

Patrik Elias

Dainius Zubrus

Petr Sykora

Line 4 (Checking)

Steve Bernier

Ryan Carter

Stephen Gionta

Reserve: Jacob Josefson,

Line Number

Left Defenseman

Right Defenseman

Line 1

Henrik Tallinder

Marek Zidlicky (italics)

Line 2

Anton Volchenkov

Adam Larsson

Line 3

Andy Greene

Mark Fayne

Reserve: Peter Harrold

Goalies

Martin Brodeur

Blank

Ideally, I think the Devils move Ilya Kovalchuk to the Left Wing of the second line, leaving a wide open spot looking for a first line right winger. I don’t think the Devils need a good shooter with that spot, I think they need a winger with good stick skills and good passing.

On defense, an improvement is needed over Marek Zidlicky, who has done very little since joining the New Jersey Devils. And of course, a second goalie is needed.

Now it’s July 1, time for Free Agency.

 

Free Agency

Andrei Kostitsyn: Signs with NJ for four years, 12.5 million dollars ($3,125,000 cap hit). Kostitsyn is a near ideal free agent that the Devils need. He’s great with the puck and is a sure fire free agent in the sense that Nashville (his current team) has no intentions of re-signing him. He would be a good top line guy or perhaps a linemate for Kovalchuk.

 

Josh Harding: Signs with NJ for three years, 10 million dollars ($3,333,333 cap hit). He is, by far, the best goalie free agent for his age group. Why wouldn’t he want to learn from the best goalie of all time, while playing in the state that was two games away from winning the Stanley Cup?

 

Joe Corvo: Signs with NJ for two years, 5.5 million dollars ($2,750,000 cap hit). A nice shot from the point, Corvo could be the Devils’ new power-play guy. If the Devils had enough money, I would definitely advise going with the much more talented, and younger, Dennis Wideman, but I don’t think the Devils would have enough cap room for that.

 

So now, let’s look at the lineup, the way I want to see it:

 

Line Number

Left Wing

Center

Right Wing

Line 1 (Scoring)

Zach Parise

Travis Zajac

David Clarkson

Line 2 (Scoring)

Ilya Kovalchuk

Dainius Zubrus

Andrei Kostitsyn

Line 3 (Scoring)

Patrik Elias

Adam Henrique

Petr Sykora

Line 4 (Checking)

Steve Bernier

Ryan Carter

Stephen Gionta 

Christian Petersen/Getty Images
Andrei Kostitsyn

Line Number

Left Defenseman

Right Defenseman

Line 1

Andy Greene

Mark Fayne

Line 2

Anton Volchenkov

Marek Zidlicky

Line 3

Henrik Tallinder

Joe Corvo 

Goalies

Martin Brodeur

Josh Harding 

What do you think of this offseason? I think with these moves, the NJ Devils could easily replicate their successes from this season. Leave a comment with your opinion, I’d like to see what you have to say.

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