The New Jersey Devils had four big unrestricted free agents going into the Trade Deadline, and now that it has passed and they’re all gone, it’s time to look ahead. Here’s how it happened:
Brian Boyle for a 2019 second-round pick
Ben Lovejoy for Connor Carrick and a 2019 third-round pick
Keith Kinkaid for a 2022 fifth-ound pick
Marcus Johansson for a 2019 second-round pick and 2020 fourth-round pick
If you don’t like any of these trades, consider the fact that any one of these players could have signed anywhere else on July 1st. But you should because Ben Lovejoy had his struggles, Keith Kinkaid played poorly, and Marcus Johansson didn’t live up to expectations. I hate to bad mouth Boyle, so I’ll just say that it was the right move to deal him because the 34-year-old’s value wouldn’t be higher. The Devils now have 10 picks in the 2019 NHL draft. The first-round pick will inevitably be top 10, they’ll have three second-round picks, two third-round picks, and one pick in each of rounds four-seven. So while the Devils will undoubtedly miss the playoffs, the turnaround could be a lot quicker than many fans expect.
The Future of the Devils
New Jersey also has a few prospects entering the mix going into the 2019-20 season. On defense, Devils fans can get excited about Ty Smith, who is absolutely dominating the WHL with 60 points in 48 games, and Jeremy Davies, a Hobey Baker finalist, who has 31 points in 30 games for Northeastern University. It’s fairly certain these two will be the next Will Butchers for the Devils. A couple other prospective Devils defenseman dominating college hockey are Reilly Walsh (Harvard) and Matthew Hellickson (Notre Dame), both younger guys to look for moving ahead. Though prospects like Steven Santini, Colby Sissons, and Colton White haven’t exactly been outstanding in the AHL, we can still expect improvement.
On offense, many of the Devils’ prospects got a taste of the NHL this year. We’ve already seen Nico Hischier, Jesper Bratt, and Pavel Zacha succeeding at the NHL level, and they keep improving, all being 21 and under. Also, we can expect the development of John Quenneville, Brett Seney, Joey Anderson, Michael McLeod, and Nathan Bastian going into next season. If that doesn’t excite you, wait until I tell you how much cap space New Jersey has.
Devils Cap Space
If the draft picks and prospects don’t do it for you, the Devils will have over $30 million dollars to spend the way they please for the 2019-20 season. To put this in perspective, the Toronto Maple Leafs will have less than $7 million dollars to spend this summer.
And while the Devils will have to re-sign important pieces like Will Butcher and Pavel Zacha, something tells me they’ll be a bit cheaper than Mitch Marner and Jake Gardiner. Safe to say general manager Ray Shero is putting New Jersey in a good spot going into the offseason.