This offseason is a great opportunity for the New Jersey Devils to improve their team. After finishing second to last in the Metropolitan Division this past season, the Devils need to make some moves if they want different results. With some clear holes on their roster, the Devils have plenty of outside options to help them improve.
The Devils can start the offseason strong with the 2022 NHL Draft tonight. Currently, the Devils have the second overall pick in the draft. However, sources around the league have confirmed that the Devils are listening to offers and could move the pick.
From tonight on, the New Jersey Devils will have a series of important decisions to make that will shape the future of this organization. With a few good choices, this team could vastly improve. In this article, I will outline an ideal offseason for the New Jersey Devils.
Trade the Second Overall Pick
The Devils have enough young pieces in place to win games right now. Drafting another star player with the second overall pick would help this team, but not for another few years. Luke Hughes is a great example of how young draftees need time to develop before entering the league.
By trading the second overall pick, the Devils put themselves in a position to win hockey games this season. Alex Debrincat is one intriguing option for the Devils tonight. The 24-year-old currently plays for the Chicago Blackhawks, another team that needs to rebuild. Because the Blackhawks are looking to bolster their team for the future, they would certainly move a player like Debrincat to secure a young star in their organization.
If the Devils can move the pick tonight for a young offensive weapon, the team could develop a forward core for years to come. Jack Hughes and Nico Hischier are already leading the young core, and another player would make this team more competitive in the upcoming season. Not to mention the boost Luke Hughes will provide once he leaps to the pros.
Resign Jesper Bratt
Resigning Jesper Bratt should be a given, but it is worth mentioning. Bratt led the Devils in points this past season with 73. At just 23 years old Bratt is another integral part of this young core that must be retained. His ability to stay healthy was huge last season, as he appeared in 76 games while both Hughes and Hischier missed time.
It would cost the Devils big time if they tried to lowball their most productive player from a season ago. Many other teams will be waiting in the wings to swoop Bratt away if the Devils don’t take care of business. A deal is expected to get done, but the Devils must make sure it happens.
As I mentioned in previous articles, goaltending is a high priority for the Devils this offseason. The team was dead last in save percentage this past season, and 29th in goals against per game. Mackenzie Blackwood was supposed to carry the bulk of the playing time last year but struggled when in the cage.
One option that is now available is Darcy Kuemper. A top-tier goaltender from the Colorado Avalanche will become available once free agency begins on the 13th. Kuemper was 11th in goals-against average this past season and fifth in save percentage. He will be available as the Avs just traded with New York Rangers for goalie Alexandar Georgiev. With that move, they no longer have the cap space to retain Kuemper.
The 32-year-old goalie would give the Devils a few more wins this upcoming season and bring them up from the bottom tier of the league. Kuemper is not the only option. Marc-Andre Fleury, Ville Husso, and Jack Campbell are all pieces that would add to the Devils’ goalie room. Bringing in more depth and talent will only help the Devils struggling goalie room.