The New Jersey Devils are in a tough spot in the 2021 offseason. They hold a few cards in the deck of the expansion draft, but Seattle Kraken has the most influence. Because Seattle has the most cap space in the league, the Kraken will be the forerunner of the 2021-22 offseason going into the 2021-22 preseason.
Seattle will set the market of what it will cost for acquisitions for the expansion draft and after. They also want to change their team quickly and end their rebuild quickly and please their season ticket holders because their rivals have been very impressive over at least two years.
The flurry of New Jersey Devils acquisitions will be perfectly measured due to their rivals
The Devils have a lot of money in their cap space to play with and make future near-term acquisitions. However, their rivals have made it more difficult for them due to their past acquisitions and performances. The New York Rangers have recently hired Gerard Gallant as their new coach, which may end up making them one of the most promising teams next season.
Meanwhile, the rival New York Islanders have been in the Eastern Conference Finals for two years in a row. Due to their rivals already having established the quality of play on and off the ice, the question will be, what would it look like if the Devils brought in other players?
Because Tom Fitzgerald has been proactive with sources like The Ottawa Sun, having mentioned earlier today that the Devils are linked in that article Carolina Hurricanes right-handed defenseman Dougie Hamilton. If acquired by the Devils would be a massive acquisition on the right side of their blue line. The Devils have plenty of room to acquire Hamilton, giving him the top dollar he deserves as a free agent and the ability to reduce the burden on Jonas Siegenthaler and defenseman P.K. Subban (if Seattle doesn’t take Subban). It will also give Reilly Walsh time to be seasoned when he is in the restricted free agent in the 2023 offseason.
What would bold and savvy transactions mean for the New Jersey Devils rebuild?
With the New Jersey Devils fanbase getting their hopes set on key acquisition targets like Rasmus Ristolainen of the Buffalo Sabres, most people need to understand that he’s the kind of player that brings skill and physicality, etc. He can also allow veteran defensive structure under a more seasoned coach.
That veteran acquisition of a tall and physical Finnish defender would help improve the stability in front of the Devils net. Over the past several seasons, the New Jersey Devils desperately need the leadership and countability of a player like Ristolainen, who has successfully blocked shots and improved his takeaway versus giveaways over his time in Buffalo.
The Devils could be getting a guy of his type would certainly be critical to Mark Recchi‘s power-play toolbox. The Devils’ possible acquisition of a Dougie Hamilton caliber of player would jolt the New Jersey Devils power play from a putrid performance during the COVID-19 shortened season into a possible above-average to top-end power play the NHL potentially.
Going into the 2021-2022 NHL offseason, the New Jersey Devils don’t need to make very many acquisitions or splurge up to the cap. However, Tom Fitzgerald needs to extend specific Restricted Free Agents due in the 2022 and 2023 offseason.
It would be a very prudent yet very business-savvy idea to develop guys like Janne Kuokkanen, Yegor Sharangovich, Jack Hughes, and Jesper Bratt, to name a few critical cogs in the New Jersey Devils nucleus.
Smart acquisitions to make with the Seattle Kraken in the expansion draft
LG: We have different perspectives on the best acquisitions to make with the Seattle Kraken. But, here are a few players that we both agree that should go to the Kraken. For one, P.K. Subban may be the obvious choice for the Kraken to receive. Thanks to Ray Shero, Subban has not lived up to the contract he received in the 2019 offseason. He has had a horrendous time being a defenseman in today’s game.
Subban also would retain a large sum of money that could go into the cap space. Damon Severson is another acquisition we agree should head over to Seattle. Severson had several up and down years when it came to scoring, but he is not a very good offensive defenseman. Putting him in Seattle would give him another opportunity to showcase what kind of defenseman he could be under the right coaches.
JS: We agree that Jesper Bratt is an integral winger to this team that provides youth, speed, shooting, silky smooth, dangling puck skills, and electricity fans know and loves seeing when he plays. Miles Wood brings the goal-scoring, physical edge, brings a particular swagger, and the unique energy New Jersey Devils fans feel excited to see every game he plays.
Janne Kuokkanen has been another versatile forward on this roster, providing speed, smarts, and very reliable point creation for depth on the Devils’ top nine lines.
Finally, Yegor Sharangovich has been a gem of a winger who can skate like the wind, plays with a physical edge, and makes shooting goals look too easy. Luke and I both agree that with this core being built around, it won’t take Tom Fitzgerald and ownership very long to get the team back to contention.
JS: The New Jersey Devils aren’t too far off from making the proper player acquisitions now and later this offseason. However, their coaching staff overtime will be improved when the Devils window of contention window opens up. A possibility for someone to succeed coach Lindy Ruff likely could be someone external from the NHL ranks but is well known in the hockey world.
The New Jersey Devils got to keep improving their coaching infrastructure at the NHL and AHL level with the help of ownership to keep the prospects and players becoming very reliable players on the Devils game in and game out. This type of plan is how we want to see them improve overnight and overtime into being good in the regular season and getting through and eventually win the Stanley Cup again with the drought going back to 2003.
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