NHL Rumor Mill – May 12, 2023
In today’s NHL Rumor Mill, we look at the Devils’ possible offseason moves and if there are other clubs besides the Canadiens that could pursue Pierre-Luc Dubois.
WHAT NEXT FOR THE DEVILS?
ESPN.COM: Kristen Shilton looked at the potential offseason plans for the New Jersey Devils following their playoff elimination by the Carolina Hurricanes.
The Devils must determine if Timo Meier is part of their long-term future. They parted with a package of players, prospects and draft picks to acquire the 26-year-old winger from the San Jose Sharks before the trade deadline.
Meier is a restricted free agent who’s a year away from unrestricted free-agent eligibility. It will cost the Devils $9 million to qualify his rights unless they agree to a more economical long-term contract.
What they do with Meier will also determine what they do to improve their lineup next season. Winger Jesper Bratt is coming off a 73-point performance and is also an RFA this summer while Miles Wood, Damon Severson and Ryan Graves are slated to become UFAs. Shilton speculates the Devils’ improvement and promising future could make them a desirable destination for free agents.
THE HOCKEY NEWS: Adam Proteau believes improving the defense should be the Devils’ offseason priority. They have over $34 million in cap space with 12 players under contract for 2023-24.
Some might prefer Devils general manager Tom Fitzgerald use some of that cap room to re-sign Meier but their offense remains potent without him. Their defense needs a direct boost. Proteau suggested pursuing a UFA such as Minnesota’s Matt Dumba or Boston’s Dmitry Orlov.
THE ATHLETIC: Shayna Goldman believes Fitzgerald’s goal will be to re-sign Meier and Bratt and balance the books around them or replace the high-end skill of whichever one departs.
To balance the rising cost of those two, they should maximize players on entry-level contracts like defensemen Luke Hughes and Simon Nemec. Goldman also believes they must stabilize their goaltending situation.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Devils have core players like Jack Hughes, Nico Hischier, Dougie Hamilton and Ondrej Palat under long-term contracts.
They have plenty of salary-cap room to address those aforementioned issues. However, they must ensure they have sufficient long-term space for when their up-and-coming talents like Dawson Mercer and Luke Hughes are ready for new contracts within the next couple of years. The anticipated big jump in the salary cap after next season should help them in that regard.
The situation with Meier and Bratt will be interesting. It can be argued that they didn’t produce as expected in the postseason. That could have an effect on their contract negotiations.
COULD THERE BE OTHER CLUBS INTERESTED IN DUBOIS?
SPORTSNET: In a recent mailbag segment, Ken Wiebe was asked if the Boston Bruins could be front-runners for Winnipeg Jets center Pierre-Luc Dubois.
The potential departures of Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci suggest Dubois would be a good fit with the Bruins but Wiebe doubts the cap-strapped club can afford to re-sign him. The 24-year-old center is a restricted free agent this summer and could seek over $8 million annually on a long-term contract.
Wiebe believes a lot of contending teams will be interested in Dubois even if it’s for one shot at winning the Stanley Cup. His appeal is enhanced if he’s willing to sign an extension with the team that trades for him.
The Colorado Avalanche could be a possibility as they’ll be looking for a second-line center. The Montreal Canadiens still look like the front-runner but Wiebe believes it’s not a “Habs-or-bust” scenario. He believes an Eastern Conference team close to New York is the most likely outcome but doesn’t rule out the Los Angeles Kings as a sleeper.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Wiebe is among the few pundits I’ve read or heard that aren’t pushing the narrative of Montreal as Dubois’ sole destination. Some, like Nick Kypreos, have floated the scenario of a contender signing Dubois for just a one-year deal for a chance at pursuing the Cup next season even at the risk of him walking away as a free agent next summer.
The Canadiens likely remain Dubois destination of choice but we can’t rule out the possibility that he ends up with another club, perhaps on a lengthy contract extension. That will provide fodder for Montreal followers demanding the Canadiens trade for Dubois this summer and ink him to a long-term deal.
Devils will trade Blackwood (Schmid should get shot as starter next season), maybe resign Haula, and let the rest of their UFA’s (Tatar,Wood,Bastian,Severson,Graves) leave on their own. L.Hughes will take Graves’ spot, Simon Nemec had a very good first year in the AHL and will replace Severson. Bahl will be a full time d-man and Brendan Smith around as a 7th dman. Boqvist can be the 3rd center, Lazar to RW to replace Bastian and Foote to replace Wood.
The team will devote their cap space to Meier (great playoff for him) and Bratt, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see Bratt traded. He was invisible in the playoffs and negotiations the last couple of offseasons haven’t gone so well with the team and his agent.
Fitzgerald has the roster in very good shape cap wise and the depth to replace those who leave
Meier did little in the playoffs til the last game. Trade him for prospects and picks, thus allowing space to sign Orlov. Easy-peesy! 😁
I disagree on Meier. He went to all the tough areas for the Devils and was noticeable. he was 2nd in shots behind Hughes and 1st in hits as a forward.
He could of easily had 3-4 goals vs the Rangers if not for Igor
ds, I agree. he might not have found the back of the net but he is heavy to play against. He did a lot of good things out there. He would be great on the Avalanche!!!
Jersey should sign a guy like Schenn for 2 years at 1,5-1,75 to help the young D
Hopefully Fitz learned a lot from the Canes series. As I saw it, Canes played defensive playoff hockey and fought for every square inch of ice. Devils tried to play through it with their fast skating game, and we saw the results (yes. there were some moments, but not near enough). Fitz needs to build a team around his fast young stars, but have players that can play that playoff hockey style. I don’t have the answer, that is why I trust Fitz as GM.
PS: Congrats Canes! And you had a great run Devs!
As I say in the other thread they just ran out of “playoff experience.”
But the team that made the greatest leap forward since Mao Tse Tung will be an even greater factor next season with just a couple of tweaks.
Agree George, they didn’t do it with smoke and mirrors either. They were a pretty dominant team most of the year. They out chance their opponents by a large margin as a whole.
I thought an experienced and physical team like the Rangers would show them the door in round 1, and the Devils handled them well.
Couple B’s worth pursuing if I am NJ. Try and pry Ullmark out of Boston, they have a cap problem and Swayman in the wings, sign Orlov as a UFA unless his ask is nuts.
Trade one of Bratt or Meier to recoup some space and young assets.
Easy to type, harder to do!
First thing the Devils need to do is get a new head coach. Ruff got out coached in all but one game against the Canes. I think they need a more modern thinking coach who can read a game and call a time out at the right time if needed. My reasoning is this, Game 3 Devils went down 3 to 1, at that point the goalie was done and he should’ve pulled him but instead he kept him in for another two goals then made the change once the game was done.
I would resign wood, and see what severson wants to do. Rest i would let go, the Devils have better players ready to step in.
Goalie is another position i would keep an eye on. From what i saw Vanecek is not the answer, and in big games his play wasn’t where it should’ve been.
Some very valid points. I would however let Wood walk unless he signs real cheap (doubt it), and use that money instead to sign a Bertuzzi type player. Yes the goalie position was exposed. A year ago the Devs could not get close to league average goaltending. This season they got league average goaltending and thrived. Unfortunately for Devs, you need better than league average to win in the playoffs. It will be a challenge for Fitz….
Im a Flers fan and i am totally jealous the way the Devils did there rebuild.
The Devils got lucky(2 no1) and did it the right way. Flyers not so much.
Hey maybe JVR will sign a cheap contract with NJ.
Ullmark might be available, and the B’s have a cap problem.
Can’t let Sverson walk . Someone will trade for his negotiating rights . You can never have enough D . Especially in the playoffs
Trade the 5 th overall and a good prospect and a younger roster player and land PLD now
cannot see anyone paying much for PLD for one year knowing his strong intentions to become a Hab.
but the price to rent him for one year could still be worth it for the Jets
Part that makes me laugh, is they are saying his next ask could be 8mil or more. His current salary is spot on so not only would you give up assets, but you would have to overpay to keep him.
Smart move for habs, unless he’s willing to play for 6mil per is a hard pass. He’s not an elite player he’s a good player with a meme attitude. habs would be smarter to invest in defense. There right side is weak so there would be a positions to fill.