New Jersey has been a team that has been well below the Upper Limit of the salary cap but that may be changing this offseason. Scott O’Neil, the outgoing CEO of the owning partnership of the team, made an appearance on the Speak of the Devils podcast (audio link) earlier this week and indicated that GM Tom Fitzgerald had been given the green light to spend and add to his roster:
Let’s spill the coffers. We’ve got plenty of cap space, let’s use it. We’ve got plenty of picks, let’s go get ’em. We’ve got the expansion draft, that’s going to create opportunity. ’Fitzy’ seems like he’s locked in, zeroed in. He’s got the green light to go. Let’s put some players on the ice.
It’s time. It’s time to start building up. We have this young core in place. Now let’s go build a hockey team and win some games.
It has been a tough stretch as of late for the Devils who missed the playoffs for the third time in a row and the eighth time in the last nine years. Along the way, they’ve added a pair of number one picks in centers Nico Hischier and Jack Hughes but the supporting cast still needs some improvement. Over the past three years, they’ve finished no higher than 25th in goals scored and no better than 26th in goals allowed. Upgrades are needed pretty much everywhere as a result although Mackenzie Blackwood has some promise in goal.
New Jersey has an extra first-round pick at 29th overall from the Kyle Palmieri and Travis Zajac trade but they only have one pick in each of the remaining six rounds. That could limit their trade chips from there although the late first-round selection is certain to intrigue teams on draft night, especially in a draft like this which has much more uncertainty than usual. If someone starts to slide, that pick will generate some interest.
But what they do have plenty of is cap space as they sit more than $37MM under the cap, per CapFriendly. More importantly, there aren’t many prominent unrestricted free agents (other than defenseman Ryan Murray) while there are no pending big-ticket contracts for a restricted free agent either. Once they take care of those, there will still be plenty of money to go around.
In an offseason where teams will be looking to move money and free agency likely to resemble the fall where big offers aren’t as prominent as usual, this should set Fitzgerald and the Devils up for a productive summer, especially now that they have the green light to spend more.