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NHL free agency officially gets underway this afternoon and the New Jersey Devils have plenty of money to go shopping.
They already have 15 players under contract, Will Butcher is the only RFA expected to cost more than ~$2 million to extend, and at least a couple of prospects (Jesper Boqvist, Ty Smith, etc.) are likely going to crack the lineup while on cheap, entry-level contracts.
In other words, a large portion of the $25.77 million they currently have in cap space is expendable. The Devils are going to use some of it to add another notable piece this off-season. At least they're going to try.
While I certainly wouldn't rule out signing a scoring winger in free agency, they're getting scooped up in a hurry. Not many names are left. If the Devils strike out there, or simply dislike the prices, they might be willing to explore some less travelled paths to improve.
One complication is the Devils don't own their 2nd round pick next season. They're only equipped to pull off an offer sheet for a meaningful player in the following price ranges, according to CapFriendly:
1. $4,227,438 to $6,341,152 (1st + 3rd round picks)
2. $10,568,590+ (four 1st round picks)
I don't think the Devils are going to go big-game hunting in the $10.5M+ range, and $6.34M might not be enough for at least one of the two names I've heard.
Reacquiring their 2nd round pick, if necessary, would allow them to get a player in the $6.34M to $8.45M range for a 1st, 2nd, and 3rd. That's reasonable.
I'm not at all saying to bet the house on an offer sheet. Far from it. Just that there are whispers going around and GM Ray Shero strikes me as someone willing to be bold if he feels it's the best, or only, avenue to improve.
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