The New Jersey Devils are a franchise with an identity crisis. They have been known as a defensive franchise that won three Stanley Cups on the famous trap style of play. It seems that the NHL is moving away from this style of play and becoming more of an offensive style surrounded by multiple superstars. Since the loss of their own superstars Ilya Kovalchuk and Zach Parise, they have not been the same. After three seasons of missed playoffs, a change was needed.
Lou Lamoriello is no longer the general manager of the Devils. After 27 years running the organization, Lamoriello stepped down as the Devils GM and gave those reins over to former Pittsburgh Penguins GM Ray Shero. That brought a major change to the philosophy in which the Devils operate. Instead of trying to build a playoff team year in and year out, it looks like the Devils will go through their first true rebuild.
The first order of business was to hire a new head coach. They went with the dark horse John Hynes, who was the head coach of the Wilkes-Barre Penguins. This was an interesting hire, especially since it ousted Scott Stevens as the assistant coach.
This may scare some Devils fans as one of their owners Josh Harris also owns the Philadelphia 76ers, which seems to be in a constant rebuild.
This offseason brought some decent moves, but with the Metropolitan Division making superstar moves it seems like the Devils are in for a long season.
The biggest move of the offseason was a trade with the Anaheim Ducks that brought Kyle Palmieri to the Devils in exchange for a second- and third-round pick. The 24-year-old New Jersey native will now get a chance to play in front of his hometown fans. This was a major win for Shero and the Devils. For two picks, neither of which is a first rounder, they received a forward who could continue to grow into a great forward.
They didn’t make much noise in free agency, but they did sign defenseman John Moore. They gave him a three-year, $5 million contract that could bring a high reward in the long run. He is extra motivated to play the New York Rangers, his former team and the main rival of the Devils. A player who plays his best hockey against the team across the Hudson River will cause them to forever have a place in the fans’ hearts.
They are looking to re-sign Adam Larsson, a possible premiere defenseman of the future, long term. Both sides want to avoid arbitration, just like they did with Eric Gelinas. That would definitely be best for the Devils.
Overall, the offseason wasn’t terrible, but it is clear that the Devils will not compete this season. That cannot bring a good grade overall, despite getting in the right direction. This is an offseason that could pay dividends later, but right now it is just above average.
Offseason Grade: B-