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Which pending free agents should the New Jersey Devils re-sign?

May 3, 2018, 12:26 PM ET [22 Comments]
Todd Cordell
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New Jersey Devils GM Ray Shero will be a busy man in the coming weeks.

On top of preparing for the draft, and exploring ways to improve the roster, he'll have to make decisions on 10 pending NHL free agents (six unrestricted, four restricted).

I'll probably go more in depth on a few guys in the coming weeks but, with the off-season yet to really get going, I wanted to do a quick rundown and set the table for each player.

Michael Grabner (UFA)

One would think the Devils' system is tailor made for a player like Grabner to have success. Apparently not. Playoffs included, he registered two goals and five points in 23 games. He didn't even have that many chances. I mean, Stefan Noesen generated more 5v5 looks over the same window and Brian Boyle was just behind him. Grabner showed flashes – particularly on the penalty kill – but couldn't string together positive shifts with any consistency. Given he was healthy scratched in the playoffs, it's fair to say the Devils won't be comfortable paying him what he'd want after consecutive 27 goal seasons. I expect he'll be let go.

Patrick Maroon (UFA)

He seemed to thoroughly enjoy his time with the team and was productive at even-strength and on the power play, where his net-front presence really made an impact. The Devils don't have many guys with his kind of skillset so, if the price is reasonable, I could see Shero taking a healthy run at re-signing him.

Miles Wood (RFA)

Wood is an absolute lock to get a new deal. He scored 19 goals while seeing limited ice and was one of the most efficient 5v5 goal scorers in the league. He's fast, he's physical, he can score and, at 22, there is still room for him to grow at both ends of the ice. His rough patches tend to be really rough but he's still a very useful player. The Devils have to be pleased with the progress he's made.

Drew Stafford (UFA)

He scored a few big goals, especially in the shootout, but he didn't provide a ton of offense and there's not much value to his game beyond that. He's getting up there in age, his style doesn't really fit the team, and I think there are some kids coming (like Joey Anderson) that the Devils would like to take a look at. I expect he'll hit the open market.

Jimmy Hayes (UFA)

He was used very sparingly down the stretch and didn't get into a playoff game. Like Stafford, he doesn't provide much – if anything – when he's not scoring and, well, he didn't score much. His lack of foot speed really stands out with the way the Devils play, too. I don't see him re-signing.

Stefan Noesen (RFA)

Noesen was a very solid role player for the Devils this season. He brought some edge, he chipped in offensively, and he was surprisingly good in a shutdown role alongside Blake Coleman and Travis Zajac on the 3rd line. He'll get a new deal and a one-way at that, meaning he'll make the same amount of money even if he has a disastrous camp, ends up on waivers, and somehow clears.

Blake Coleman (RFA)

A lot of what I said about Noesen can be applied to Coleman as well. He was a very effective role player this season and he made himself a fan favorite with his non-stop motor and ability to make so many things happen by simply outworking his opponent. He'll be back, and he'll be making more than the $660,000 he pulled in this past season.

Brian Gibbons (UFA)

Gibbons is a tricky one. After a really strong, and unsustainable, start to the season, his offense really dried up. He was a possession anchor at 5v5, too. His style matches the team's, and he's a good penalty killer, but I could see the Devils moving on here.

John Moore (UFA)

I think the Devils value his game more than most fans and media do. I also think they know they need to improve the defense and that means moving on from a couple guys on the back end. Andy Greene isn't going anywhere. Sami Vatanen isn't going anywhere. Will Butcher isn't going anywhere. Damon Severson shouldn't be going anywhere.

If there are going to make meaningful changes on defense, they need to replace someone who sees steady minutes. I think Moore will be the fall guy and he should be. He's not a big point producer, he's not strong in possession, and he's not somebody you want on the ice in the final minute defending a lead. Giving him a healthy raise from the $1.66M he pulled in the last few years seems like a bad idea.

Steven Santini (RFA)

He will unquestionably get a new deal. His underlying numbers were not at all encouraging but a) he was playing extremely tough minutes; b) he's only 23 and; c) the Devils invested a 2nd round pick in him.

They're not going to cut the cord before giving him a chance to be an every day player in a role that's actually reasonable for him (aka not on the matchup pairing).

Eddie Lack (UFA)

It was another really tough season for Lack. He posted an .870 save percentage in eight games at the NHL level and didn't fare much better in Binghamton. Will he be re-signed as insurance? Possibly. Should he be? Probably not.

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