Today is a great day in the NHL as free agency has begun. Star players like Johnny Gaudreau, Andre Burakovsky, and Darcy Kuemper will all make decisions about their future soon. By the time this article is published, several teams will have shelled out millions of dollars in hopes of hoisting the Stanley Cup Trophy next season.
Today will be a great day for many fans around the league, and a terrible day for others. Fans will be constantly checking their phones and social media for breaking news and leaks about upcoming deals.
The New Jersey Devils are among those anxiously awaiting news. The Devils are one of the teams competing to sign Johnny Gaudreau. The New Jersey native was instrumental to the Calgary Flames’ success this season with 115 points.
With Gaudreau’s decision on the horizon, let us look at how he would fit in with the New Jersey Devils.
Before hitting free agency, Gaudreau was on a 6-year 40.5-million-dollar deal, with an AAV of 6.75 million dollars. With his success this past year, Gaudreau will demand more than that this offseason.
That previous contract made Gaudreau the 16th highest-paid left winger in the league. With 115 points, he is sure to move up on that list. In 2019, Artemi Panarin earned the highest AAV for all left-wingers in the NHL. Panarin signed a 7-year 81.5-million-dollar deal, with an AAV of 11.642 million dollars.
Gaudreau, a 28-year-old superstar, will be vying for a similar contract. While it may be hard to break Panarin’s mark, he will certainly get a hefty deal. He will likely get a contract with an AAV from 8.5 million dollars to 12 million dollars.
How Gaudreau Will Help:
Johnny Gaudreau, Jesper Bratt, and Jack Hughes could all be on the same line next season. If that does not excite Devils fans, I am not sure what will. Last year, Jesper Bratt led the Devils with 73 points. In that same season, Gaudreau had 115 points. A prolific offensive threat like that could do wonders for the Devils.
At 28 years old, Johnny hockey has plenty of gas left in the tank. However, he brings loads of experience to this young team. Gaudreau is entering his 10th year in the league and coming off a playoff push with the Flames. The Devils are an extremely young team, with almost no playoff experience. A veteran talent with playoff experience can help the young stars on this team.
The Devils’ offense was very one-dimensional for most of last season. With Hughes and Nico Hischier both getting injured during the season, there was very little for other teams to worry about. Gaudreau will not only add offense but durability as he played 82 games last season.
Concerns about signing Gaudreau:
There is no perfect deal in sports. One immediate concern with signing Gaudreau is how expensive he would be. He will demand a large salary, and it is always risky giving that much money to a free agent. If he doesn’t gel with the team, that will be a lot of money wasted on a bad situation.
Additionally, it is fair to expect a drop-off in production. The Flames were sixth in goals per game with 3.55 last season. Obviously, with a high-powered offense like that players are going to score points. The Devils must be wary of the fact that Gaudreau may not be able to put up the same numbers in the Devils’ offense as he did in the Flames’ offense.
While there are always concerns with signing free agents, this opportunity to bring in Gaudreau is huge for the Devils. He can truly elevate this team to the next level next season. The Devils were a bad team last season, and one superstar could completely turn things around.
Hopefully, the Devils can make an early splash and sign Gaudreau in free agency and make some noise on the ice next season with an explosive offense.