It has taken the New Jersey Devils under the current ownership group to get here. The Devils young prospect pipeline is full of talent and in the two past offseasons, GM Tom Fitzgerald has been spending money and making deals to bolster the young core nucleus of Jack Hughes and Nico Hischier, whom are locked long term in New Jersey.
Now the Devils find themselves spending to the salary cap ceiling. Yes, they struck out on the Johnny Gaudreau sweepstakes. But so did many other NHL teams for a variety reasons. However, Devils alternative plan may in fact work out best in the end.
Gaudreau would have cost the Devils around $10M a year for the next seven years. No doubt he is a great player. But you can’t assume that he would live up to that monster contract. Once Fitzgerald was ghosted, he turned to his Plan B.
The Devils had other needs. Fitzy took some of that cap space that would have gone to Gaudreau and invested in a five year deal to get a proven Stanley Cup champion in Ondrej Palat and took on salary when he traded for defenseman John Marino.
From all accounts so far in training camp, it appears that with Palat’s championship experience and Marino’s ability to keep up with any NHL forward with his speed, these transactions maybe the difference between making the playoffs or not. Moreover, Gaudreau’s decision to go to the Blue Jackets may have made the Devils a much better overall team.
Devils Play First Preseason Game in Montreal Against Canadiens
For those that want to watch the Devils/Habs preseason game tonight and do not have access to ESPN Plus or TSN/RDS, you can go to NewJerseyDevils.com/app. You can also listen to the game on the Devils Hockey Network as well.