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I wanted to do one last Q&A post before the off-season really got going and, as always, you guys peppered me with good questions.
I couldn't get to them all but I tried to answer as many as possible without turning this into a novel.
On the trade market I'm sure they'll make calls about any and all quality young defenders who could be available – such as Noah Hanifin. Whether that leads to anything is anyone's guess. Those kinds of players don't come cheap.
In terms of free agency, there isn't much there beyond John Carlson, who will cost a fortune. I agree with you on de Haan. As I mentioned in a recent article
, I think he'd be an upgrade over John Moore in the top-4 and the ask should be pretty reasonable in both term and dollars.
I don't think so. It makes no sense to pay a premium for Erik Karlsson when there's a very realistic chance he hits free agency and hand picks his next destination in just a year's time. I think he wants to play for a team like Tampa Bay.
As for John Tavares, everyone talks about how important loyalty is to him. If he leaves the Islanders, which I don't think is as likely as it seemed prior to the hiring of Lou Lamoriello, he doesn't strike me as the kind of guy who would go and sign with a rival team that faces the Isles 600 times per season. Maybe I'm wrong but I think teams like San Jose and Vegas would stand a much better chance.
No, I don't. Travis Zajac is pretty much the only bad contract on the books. He's one of the best two-way players on the roster, though, and the Devils have plenty of cap space so there's no reason to go down that path. Maybe in a season or two if his play *really* tails off.
I think the action will pick up on draft weekend, as always. That's when notable players get moved and there's also potential for the Devils to trade down to pick up extra assets. I'd expect a trade or two next weekend and then the Devils to dip their toes into the free agent waters to bring in a Tier 2 guy (such as de Haan).
As for McLeod, I'd lean towards no. He didn't dominate in Mississauga like the team hoped or expected. I think he needs seasoning and the Devils aren't going to rush him.
I answered the first part of your question above so we'll skip right to Tavares. No, I wouldn't give him $13 million. He is an excellent player and will be for some time. That said, we've probably already seen his peak and I'm not a fan of committing massive term and dollars to players who will spend a good portion of their contract on the wrong side of 30.
Also, Taylor Hall and Nico Hischier will both be signing *very* lucrative deals over the next couple years. If you commit that to Tavares and pay Hall and Hischier what it'd take, you're probably looking at $28-$30 million for three players. There is no room for error elsewhere if you want to compete with a small group of guys taking up so much cap space. Just ask Chicago.
I would say their 1st rounder this year. McLeod's development stagnated this year and it's becoming increasingly clear he won't be a high-end NHLer. At 17th overall, there appears to be a pretty good chance a high upside player such as Grigori Denisenko, Rasmus Kupari, or Ty Smith is still on the board. Personally, I'd take any of those three over McLeod.
I've learned never to say never but I think it's pretty unlikely. The Devils would be selling extremely low. He's coming off the worst year of his career and, as you mentioned, a major surgery. He's also making a lot of money. Any assets the Devils fetch would probably hold less value to the team than Schneider if he bounces back even a little bit next season. I mean, you sell Schneider for pennies on the dollar and then you immediately have to go out and find an established goaltender.
If Cory Schneider can give the Devils league average goaltending and Ray Shero patches a couple holes this summer, I don't see why they can't make the playoffs again considering several of their top players are young and still improving.
From 2009-16, Grabner's average (not total) 5v5 shooting percentage was 9.82%. In two years with the Rangers it was an unsustainably high 16.06%. In 21 games with the Devils it was 3.57%. Regression is a bitch.
I would not. I already talked about Zajac above. Andy Greene is not the player he once was but he's the captain, the Devils are very shallow on the left side and, again, they don't need the money right now. Ben Lovejoy takes a beating from the fanbase but I thought he mostly handled himself well on the 3rd pairing this season. He only has one year left – ride it out.
I like where your head is at re: buying low but I don't think Arizona is a team you do that with. John Chayka is a smart guy. He'll be well aware Domi shot just 3.88% at 5v5 after scoring on better than 10% of his shots over the first two years of his career. Maybe Domi will be dealt but Chayka won't value Domi as the 3.88% shooter he was this past season.
On Niederreiter: I'd be perfectly fine sending a package including Pavel Zacha. Most of Zacha's value comes from his defensive game and Niederreiter is one of the better defensive players in the league so he would easily make up for any loss there while also improving the 5v5 offense drastically. Whether a young, cheap player like Zacha and another legitimate asset or two (not a 5th round pick) is enough, I don't know. But it's worth finding out.
On Ekman-Larsson: if he's on the table, and willing to re-sign, I think you're talking something like Damon Severson, Zacha, and 17th overall or Michael McLeod. Maybe even more. Basically, you're throwing everything but the kitchen sink. Actually, it has to be included, too. I'd probably do it because he'd fill a huge need, he's only 26, and players like him are extremely difficult to find.
The first rule of Oregon Ducks mascot gif club is don't talk about Oregon Ducks mascot gif club and I'm not about to break it.
A closer look at another possibility for the Devils at 17th overall
Five potential 1st round draft targets for the Devils
On the possibility of trading down and Ilya Kovalchuk
What about Noah Hanifin?
The Devils should not pursue John Carlson in free agency
The Devils should inquire about Nino Niederreiter
The Devils should target Calvin de Haan
Could the Devils trade Damon Severson?
Miles Wood drastically improved in 2017-18
The Devils should let Brian Gibbons test free agency
Pavel Zacha has been one of NHL's best penalty killers since entering the league
It's time to walk away from John Moore