The New Jersey Devils have struggled financially in the past few years, specifically last season, when they almost filed for bankruptcy. These financial issues haven’t affected the team’s ability to be successful in the past though, and won’t affect it in the future.
Rarely do the Devils sign big-name players in free agency.
The only exception is when they signed Ilya Kovalchuk.
Kovalchuk signed a gigantic contract in the summer of 2010, which proves that the Devils are financially able to sign free agents, but they choose not to.
The Devils have never relied on the free-agent market to put together competitive teams. Their success begins with general manager Lou Lamoriello and the coaching staff, and then from them, it finds its way to the players.
Historically, the Devils' successful players have been drafted, or traded for.
The team drafted Patrik Elias, Scott Niedermayer, Ken Daneyko, John MacLean and Martin Brodeur, all of whom are considered great players in Devils history.
They also have traded for players that have played huge roles on the team.
Jeff Friesen is a great example.
The Devils acquired Friesen before the 2002-03 season, the year the Devils won their third Stanley Cup.
Scouts in the Devils' organization thought they had found a player in Friesen that would help the team be successful, and they were correct.
Friesen scored two of the Devils' three goals in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup in 2003. He had a total of 14 points in the 2003 playoffs, and his 10 goals were the second-most by a player in the playoffs.
Jamie Langenbrunner was first in goals, and points in the playoffs that year, another example of an important player for the Devils that they traded for.
Langenbrunner, who was acquired at the trade deadline in 2002, played a vital role in the Devils' Stanley Cup run in 2003.
The most famous trade the Devils made, though, was for longtime captain Scott Stevens.
Stevens was an elite player at the time, but the Devils agreed to acquire him from the St. Louis Blues in compensation for Brendan Shanahan.
After receiving a lot of criticism for making the deal, the Devils won three Stanley Cups with Stevens as captain.
Despite being such a consistent team, at the beginning of every season experts pick the Devils to finish towards the bottom of the standings. This is because they never sign big-name free agents in the offseason. But every year the Devils are competitive.
In fact, they have made the playoffs 20 times in the past 22 years.
It’s all about home-grown talent for the Devils, and this season and future ones will be no different.
Travis Zajac, David Clarkson, Adam Henrique, Elias, Adam Larsson and Brodeur, all of whom were drafted by the Devils, will continue to be leaders on the team.
As for the future, don’t expect the Devils to be made up of many signed free agents, regardless of whether they have the money to or not. They get their players from their own system or from trades, not from free agency.
The Devils don’t necessarily have better prospects in comparison to other teams in the NHL, but they always end up developing great NHL players. This is because of the outstanding staff and coaching of in New Jersey.
For example, the future of the Devils will most likely consist of players set to move up in their system. John Merrill, Stephan Matteau, Brandon Burlon, Keith Kinkaid, Scott Wedgewood and future draft picks will most likely anchor the team in the future.