The New Jersey Devils were one of the most snake-bitten offenses in hockey this year, consistently outshooting opponents but failing to find ways to win down the stretch. Lacking top-six depth and unable to score, the Devils fell apart after a few injuries, missing the playoffs for the second time in three years. With so few weapons, Patrik Elias– an unrestricted free agent and New Jersey’s points leader each season since 2009-10- is someone that this struggling offense cannot afford to lose.
The Devils don’t have the offensive depth to allow such an iconic and talented forward to walk away through free agency. Because of his consistent production even as the rest of the team wavered, Elias will surely receive lucrative offers on the open market. Thanks to Lou Lamoriello‘s confusing policy of not negotiating with upcoming free agents, the Devils’ most consistent offensive threat may walk.
Not only is Elias New Jersey’s best producer, he’s also a Devils legend. He holds the points record for the young franchise, and he may very well be on his way to the Hockey Hall of Fame. On nearly the same level in Devils history as Martin Brodeur, it’s hard to imagine Elias playing for any other team besides New Jersey.
Just one year after the Devils lost their captain to free agency, New Jersey must re-sign Patrik Elias to whatever contract the market is willing to offer. Losing a player of his caliber simply is not an option if the Devils want to be competitive. The offense needs Elias, and given the illustrious career he’s had in New Jersey, the Devils would be foolish to let him walk away.