With the New Jersey Devils waiting for next season to arrive, they need to look at what needs to get done.
The Devils want to start rebuilding and hoping they can somehow make a better idea of their future wants. Too bad they don’t have a magic genie that they could pull out. But if the Devils did have a magic genie, it can grant them any three wishes they want for the offseason and next season, here’s what they would like.
Sign Alex Pietrangelo in Free Agency
This one may seem like a pipe dream, but it certainly doesn’t seem impossible. With $26 million in cap space, the Devils could try to get Alex Pietrangelo to come to New Jersey.
In the 2019-20 season, Pietrangelo scored 16 goals and 36 assists for a total of 52 points. Pietrangelo will become the primary target for teams around the league, especially those who are lacking on defense. For the Devils, this could be a significant opportunity to try and fix their defensive issues.
Acquiring P.K. Subban last year at the draft may have been a big ideal move for the Devils defense at the time. However, Subban didn’t live up to the expectations the Devils had for him. His production dipped from his time with the Nashville Predators, with his point total dropping from 31 to 18 and his defensive abilities taking a nosedive.
But there is another issue at hand. Pietrangelo will unsurprisingly ask for a lot of money in his contract. While I can not guess what the deal would look like, all I know is that it will be costly. There will probably be a lot higher suitors for Pietrangelo, and maybe the Devils won’t go after him at all. But it wouldn’t hurt for the Devils to at least attempt to get him. Pietrangelo would become a definite fix for the Devils defense.
Re-sign Nikita Gusev
Perhaps the best player on the Devils last season, Nikita Gusev, made the Vegas Golden Knights regret trading him away. Gusev put up an impressive 13 goals and 31 assists in 66 games during the 2019-20 season.
What’s been impressive in his time with the Devils so far is his skating and his playmaking ability with Jack Hughes. He’s become one of the most prominent bright spots of the Devils from last season. So, an extension should become one of the many contract talks discussed next season. But there are a couple of things he must prove.
For one thing, if he continues to be consistent and can impress the Devils once more, he should easily earn that extension. One other thought is how much money New Jersey is willing to use from their cap space to sign him. Remember, Jack Hughes and Nico Hischier are going to be asking for extensions as well. Trust me; it’s worth paying for a player like this to help with the rebuild.
Lindy Ruff Turning This Team Around
With the Devils going into a rebuilding phase, they need an outstanding coach to guide them. While Lindy Ruff may have been a surprise to many, I feel he can turn this team around.
Turning them into Stanley Cup contenders next season is unlikely. Ruff can at least turn them into a non-basement team. But how could he turn this team around, you ask?
For one, Ruff is good at helping shaping rookies to who they are today. In Dallas, Ruff helped players like Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin improve into the star players that they are. He could use this experience to help young players like Nico Hischier and Jack Hughes reach their full potential. Ruff also has that sort of fire in him that could discipline this team to become better. I would like to see more discipline and have the offense fight for their opportunities, and I believe Ruff will do just that.
Can New Jersey return to the playoffs next year? They probably won’t, but that doesn’t mean Ruff won’t make them worse than where they are right now.
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