The New Jersey Devils’ defensive corps should have a few fresh faces joining them next season, as prospect Ty Smith and Norris Trophy-winning defensemen P.K. Subban come into the fold. Although it’s been a summer of exciting changes for the Devils, familiar faces will be returning in the form of a few restricted free agents. Two defensemen who will be staying with the team for the upcoming season are Mirco Mueller and Connor Carrick.
Ever since his acquisition via trade from the San Jose Sharks, Mirco Mueller has been a polarizing figure in Jersey. The former first-round pick is a young defenseman who came with a high ceiling of potential but never fully lived up to it. Mueller has frequently found himself either left out of the lineup or injured. Just this past season, he was injured in a scary collision against the boards during a game against the Calgary Flames that left the Prudential Center stunned and silenced. Thankfully, he recovered and has since signed a one year, $1.4 million dollar contract with New Jersey, avoiding arbitration. This is likely a “prove-it” deal, giving Mueller another year to convince Shero and company he can produce and be awarded another contract.
bCarrick was an unexpected surprise for the Devils in the second half of the season. Acquired as an additional piece in the trade that sent Ben Lovejoy to the Dallas Stars, not much was expected of the young defenseman. While a young defender is always a great asset to have, especially for a thin defensive team like the Devils, his past track record in Dallas was unimpressive. He made an immediate impact in New Jersey, scoring three points in his debut game and then a goal in the Prudential Center season finale against the New York Rangers. Carrick’s new contract is for two years at an average annual value of $1.5 million.
What does this mean for the future of New Jersey’s blue line? Subban is a right pairing defenseman, so his arrival doesn’t pose too much of a threat to Mueller. Carrick joins a rather crowded right side for the Devils, but his play at the end of the season proved a spark of what’s to come. However, Ty Smith is a left shooting defenseman, so Mueller isn’t completely out of the woods.
Neither Mueller nor Carrick is going to be the next Scott Stevens or Scott Neidermayer. In fact, they’ll most likely be vying to be the seventh d-man on the Devils roster with the anticipated arrivals of Smith and Subban. Both clearly did something right to be kept around, and hopefully, they both take a step forward along with the team to lead the New Jersey Devils back to contention.