The New Jersey Devils are restructuring their front office ahead of the start of a new season. The Associated Press reports that the team has promoted two top executives to vice president status. Tom Fitzgerald, who has been linked to the Minnesota Wild GM opening in each of the past two years, will add Executive Vice President to his existing Assistant GM title. The former NHLer is entering his fourth season as Assistant GM in New Jersey after six seasons in the same role with the Pittsburgh Penguins. Dan MacKinnon, who had previously served as the team’s Senior Director of Player Personnel, will take on the Senior Vice President role while also being officially named an Assistant GM as well. MacKinnon is another executive poached by GM Ray Shero from the Penguins; he served the team for a decade in player personnel before moving into the same role with the Devils in 2016. Having all worked together in Pittsburgh and now New Jersey for some time, Shero, Fitzgerald, and MacKinnon form a solid trio as the base of the front office operations for the Devils, as reflected by these new titles.
- With all of the teams currently holding more salary cap space also still needing to sign one or two prominent restricted free agents, the Ottawa Senators are the odds-on favorite to begin the regular season with the most cap flexibility. CapFriendly currently projects the team to have more than $10MM in space, even with a fully healthy, optimal lineup. Many have suggested that the Senators could use this space to add talent, or at least to pick up picks or prospects in a deal for an overpriced veteran, as they did with the injured Ryan Callahan. However, don’t expect any such move until farther along in training camp at the earliest. While Ottawa may have the least amount of dollars committed to their roster, they have the most contracts signed in the league, tied with the Los Angeles Kings with 49 of a maximum 50 slots filled. They can alleviate that contract crunch slightly by sending teenage prospects Jon Gruden or Lassi Thomson back to junior, but will likely wait to do so until they get a better look at the pair in training camp. In the meantime, and even afterward, the Senators are surely going to be a team keeping a close eye on the waiver wire, hoping to add a young, affordable player to the mix. Making a trade for a veteran too soon could interfere with their ability to make claims. If they can make it through to the start of the regular season and still have room to add a player, then they could re-emerge as a candidate to take on a bad contract from a cap-strapped contender.
- Both the Devils and Senators are among the teams that could be looking down the road a ways and following what Mark Divver calls the biggest recruiting battle in hockey right now. 16-year-old forward Zachary Bolduc is considered one of the top prospects in the 2021 NHL Draft class. The Quebec native is playing prep school hockey in Rhode Island this season, but still deciding what to do next year. Bolduc was the 14th overall pick in the QMJHL Entry Draft by Rimouski Oceanic this year and the club would very much like to sign the local product. However, Bolduc has also been eyeing the college route. Divver reports that he has already visited the University of Massachusetts, Boston University, and the University of Maine and has planned trips to the University of Michigan and the University of North Dakota. Should he opt for the NCAA, Bolduc could play in the USHL next year, having been drafted by the Sioux City Musketeers in the second round of the USHL Draft this year as well. The talented center has plenty of options and NHL teams will surely be interested to see which development route he chooses.