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The New Jersey Devils need to upgrade on defense, add scoring, and they have plenty of money to do it.
Knowing that, people are linking John Tavares, John Carlson, James van Reimsdyk, and seemingly all the biggest name free agents to the team.
While it's easy to see the logic behind targeting any one of them, I think the Devils are more likely to steer clear of the players who will command long-term deals.
GM Ray Shero hinted at as much in a recent interview with Mike Morreale of NHL.com
"We obviously want to be in position to sign Taylor Hall a year from now and that contract would kick in (2020-21), the same season Hischier becomes a restricted free agent. So we have to be careful what we're doing beyond two years."
That's not to say Shero won't be aggressive or active in trying to upgrade the roster. He always is. He just needs to be careful with term, as previously mentioned, and I think he will be.
That means taking a less sexy path. Up front, for example, I could see them targeting a player like David Perron as opposed to the local boy JvR.
Although he's not as good of a goal scorer, Perron would still boost the offense. He's also a right handed shot who can play the right side, which would make him a more natural fit on the roster.
Will Perron be cheap? Not following a 66 point campaign with the shockingly good Vegas Golden Knights.
In saying that, he doesn't have the same kind of track record someone like JvR has and he's a little older. He'll be paid well, but almost certainly over a shorter period of time. I think it'll take at least six years to get JvR whereas I could see Perron signing a lucrative deal for three or four. That would make more sense for the Devils.
On defense, hesitating to hand out term means sitting on the sidelines during the Carlson sweepstakes and taking a run at someone like Calvin de Haan instead.
Obviously, there's no comparison between the two players but de Haan would still be a good get. The Devils really need to upgrade on the left side and the last three seasons of data suggest de Haan is noticeably better than John Moore.
Though de Haan won't sign for pennies, he's not going to break the bank, either. Even if the Devils had to dish out a little more money than they hoped – such is life in free agency – de Haan isn't someone who will get a lot of term and cause issues down the road. It'd likely only take two or three years.
The Devils could very well be active in free agency but I don't think they'll be targeting, or signing, the biggest, sexiest names available in order to improve. And they don't have to.
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The Devils should target Calvin de Haan
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It's time to walk away from John Moore