The New Jersey Devils offseason was quite eventful. The Devils were a once-dominant franchise. Led by Martin Brodeur, the Devils won the Stanley Cup in 1995, 2000, and 2003. Unfortunately, the Devils have not had the same success recently as they had in the late ’90s and early 2000s. Despite having successes in 2011-12 and 2017-18, where they made the playoffs, the team has struggled to become a product that could stand up in today’s NHL. With lots of young talent on the roster and a fantastic New Jersey Devils offseason, the team could be back in Stanley Cup contention very soon. Luke Garrison and Clancy Golden take a look at it and break down the New Jersey Devils offseason.
New Jersey Devils Offseason Losses
The New Jersey Devils made some fantastic decisions this offseason as they could get rid of an expensive and underperforming player. With the newfound cap space, the Devils could help another team get out of a cap crunch while improving their team.
The first move of the New Jersey Devils offseason was letting go of veteran goalie Cory Schneider. When the Devils acquired Schneider from the Vancouver Canucks in the 2013 draft, he was considered the future face of the franchise.
Schneider had recently struggled in his time in New Jersey, but this season was one of the worst of his career. It all began when he got injured on opening night against the Winnipeg Jets. The Devils were leading 4-0 when Schneider suffered a lower-body injury and had to leave the game. Since the injury, Schneider played his way to a .887 save percentage and a 3.53 goals-against average.
Due to his poor play, Schneider lost his starting goalie position to Mackenzie Blackwood. Schnieder still had two years left on his contract, and he was making $6 million a season. His lack of production and decline of play made the decision to cut him an easy one. Instead of paying Scheider $12 million throughout the next two seasons, he will be delivered $2 million in each of the following four seasons.
The Toronto Maple Leafs are in a significant cap crunch after signing many of their talented players to huge contracts. General Manager Kyle Dubas decided to trade Andreas Johnson to the Devils in a cap dump with limited cap space. Johnson will be discussed in a little bit, but the player who the Devils had to give up is Joey Anderson. Anderson is a 22-year-old forward from Minnesota. He does have some NHL experience as he has played in 52 games for New Jersey. He has 13 career points, including eight goals. Toronto is getting a competent player who will split his time between playing for the Marlies and the bottom six for the Maple Leafs.
New Jersey Devils Offseason Additions
After yet another abysmal season, the Devils needed to improve their roster to be competitive in the upcoming season. The New Jersey Devils offseason including them beefing up their defense and goal scoring by acquiring three new players who should be fantastic additions to the team.
With defense being one of the Devils main struggles, they needed to look on the market for some defensemen that could be helpful. Acquiring Ryan Murray from the Columbus Blue Jackets may not seem like a bad idea. Murray is a defenseman who has a lot of offensive skill and could work when assisting. However, the one primary concern is staying healthy due to last year getting injured and only playing 27 games that year. If he can stay healthy and continue being a reliable defenseman, this could be a massive asset to New Jersey.
Another problem the Devils know they need to fix is their scoring issues. They acquired a forward that played with one of the NHL’s biggest stars, Auston Matthews. Acquiring Andreas Johnsson from the Maple Leafs, the Devils feel they found someone that could help figure out how to start scoring again. Like Murray, he has had some injury issues as well, having knee surgery nearly a year ago. Thankfully, Johnsson would come back and get 13 assists last year. This season is a massive opportunity for Johnsson to have a comeback year and a fresh start on a new team to see what difference he can make without Auston Matthews by his side.
Another defenseman, the Devils, acquired in the offseason was Dmitry Kulikov. While it isn’t a significant move, Fitzgerald feels he needs more to add to the defense’s depth. Kulikov only scored two goals, one of them being in that comeback against the Devils on October 4th of last year. He probably won’t bring anything significant to the team, but it’s nice to see Fitzgerald trying to help out the defense in any way he can.
New Jersey Devils Draft Picks
Since the New Jersey Devils were one of the worst teams in the league last season, the NHL rewarded them with the seventh overall pick. The Devils have the seventh pick. They also had two other selections in the first round.
The Devils drafted a very skilled Swedish forward by the name of Alexander Holtz with their first draft pick in the 2020 NHL Draft. Holtz is currently playing in the Swedish Hockey League. He plays for Djurgardens IF. In 19 games this season for Djurgardens, Holtz has registered six goals and seven assists.
Holtz represented his home country of Sweden in the World Junior Championship. He has one of the best shots in the entire draft and will put it to fair use. Devils fans who tuned into Sweden games would have seen him score one goal and add two assists during his five games in the tournament. Devils fans should be prepared for Holtz to score some goals on awe-inspiring shots in the Prudential Center when Holtz is wearing Devils’ red.
With their next selection in the first round, the Devils selected another winger by the name of Dawson Mercer. He is currently playing in the QMJHL for the Chicoutimi Sagueneens. In five games this season for Chicoutimi, Mercer has scored four goals and assisted on three others.
Mercer played for Team Canada during the 2021 World Junior Championship. Devils fans tuned into the games to see Mercer and his Canadian teammates would have seen the Canadian team dominate the tournament until the gold medal game where Team Canada matched up with Team USA. Team USA defeated the Canadians in the gold medal game by a score of 2-0. In the tournament, he played in all seven games and scored two goals and added four assists. This prospect had a great showing and should get Devils fans excited for his future.
With the Devils third and final pick of the first round, they selected a Russian defenseman named Shakir Mukhamadullin. He is 18 years and already looks like he has a promising future. This season Mukhamadullin has played 31 games in the KHL for Salavat Yulaev. So far, he has two goals and seven assists for the club. Mukhamadullin also participated in the World Junior Championship for team Russia.
Devils fans who tuned into the tournament to watch Sweden’s Alexander Holtz and Canada’s Dawson Mercer play would have seen team Russia play. In the tournament, the future Devils defenseman could not get on the scoreboard, but he still has a promising NHL future ahead of him.
New General Manager Tom Fitzgerald is already making radical changes in his first New Jersey Devils offseason. Cutting ties with a goalie not living up to his contract will allow Mackenzie Blackwood to continue to develop and become a star. Fitzgerald also took advantage of teams looking to clear a bit of cap space as he acquired Andreas Johnson and Ryan Murray in deals where he did not have to give up equal value. Finally, the Devils took advantage of their three first-round picks and selected three players who should be cornerstone pieces of their franchise in the future.
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