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Grading the New Jersey Devils 2023 Offseason Moves

The New Jersey Devils had a productive offseason this summer, despite not making as many moves compared to past years. With a young core ready to contend, little change was expected. The M.O. for GM Tom Fitzgerald was locking down core pieces and filling in the gaps. With hockey right around the corner, and the offseason practically done, let’s give a letter grade to the moves made this summer.

New Jersey Devils Offseason Moves

Trading D Damon Severson to the Columbus Blue Jackets for a 2023 Third Round Pick

One of the first moves of the offseason was the Devils signing, and then trading defenseman Damon Severson. The Devils got tremendous value for Severson, who was a pending free agent, by getting a third-rounder back. This was a home run move by Fitzy given the circumstances, and what that third-rounder was used on. The slight downside is moving him to a division rival, albeit to a poor Blue Jackets team.

Grade: A-

Re-signing F Jesper Bratt to 8 x $63 Million Contract

The Devils’ attempt to get Bratt to sign an extension has been a multiyear slugfest. It finally got done this year and at a very team-friendly price. In addition, a great job by Fitzy to grind away with his agent to get Bratt to sign for less than the $8 million Jack Hughes gets.

Grade: A

Hired Travis Green as the new Associate Coach

After losing Andrew Brunette to the Nashville Predators, the Devils brought in Travis Green. The former Vancouver Canucks head coach is still young but has plenty of experience behind the bench. Despite all the talent, the Devils powerplay left a lot to be desired, something Green will be tasked with fixing. Could he be the heir to Lindy Ruff, or using the Devils as a stepping stone to a head coaching gig somewhere else?

Grade: B

Re-signing F Erik Haula to 3 x $9.45 Million Contract

The Erik Haula for Pavel Zacha swap was a win-win for both teams last season, and Haula has become an integral part of the team. He spent a large portion of the season next to Hughes, as well as being an important piece to the PK and PP. The $3.15 million AAV is slightly high, but a price worth paying for a high-end role player.

Grade: B

Acquiring F Shane Bowers from Boston in Exchange for D Reilly Walsh

The Devils made a minor swap, sending defenceman Reilly Walsh to Boston, in exchange for forward Shane Bowers. Both have yet to make an impact at the NHL level, but Bowers is a former first-round pick. However, he will likely spend the season in the AHL in Utica.

Grade: C+

Trading G Mackenzie Blackwood to San Jose in exchange for a 2023 Sixth Round Pick

After a promising start to his career, things never panned out for Blackwood in New Jersey. Over the past few years, many of his highlights were overshadowed by his lowlights. His tenure with the Devils needed to end for both sides, and he gets a fresh start in San Jose. Despite some of the fan hatred, there is hope he will succeed with the Sharks.

Grade: B

Acquiring F Tyler Toffoli from Calgary in Exchange for F Yegor Sharangovich, 2023 Third-Round Pick

Fitzy’s biggest off-season acquisition was undoubtedly bringing in Tyler Toffoli. The Devils flipped a good, not great winger in Sharangovich as well as the third-rounder they got from Columbus in the Severson trade. Toffoli brings in a ton of offence into the Devils top nine, while also being on the final year of his contract. Sharangovich needed a fresh start somewhere, and in return got a 30-goal scorer in Toffoli.

Grade: A

Re-signing F Timo Meier to 8 x $70.4 Million Contract

After making a massive splash and trading for Timo Meier, Fitzy locked him down long-term four months later. Meier brings a level of physicality and goal-scoring that the team sorely lacked before his arrival. He will play a massive role in the Devils winning a Stanley Cup and has the potential to become one of the best goal-scorers in franchise history playing next to Hughes and Nico Hischier.

Grade: A+

Re-signing F Michael McLeod to 1 x $1.4 Million Contract

McLeod stepped up in a big way this season as an anchor on the PK and as the team’s best face-off taker. He has developed well into a fast, physical, fourth-line centre, and was a little surprised he only signed for one year. It would have been nice to see him signed for multiple years considering how big of a role he plays. The two sides will return to the negotiating table, where Fitzy should lock him down for multiple years.

Grade: B-

Signing G Erik Källgren to 1 x $775k Contract

This likely would have been left off the list, but with no other goalie acquisition, Källgren is an injury away from seeing NHL action. It looked likely the Devils would make some move to bring in a goalie, but when the dust settled on July 1, he was the only one brought in. In the event of a major goalie injury, the Devils would likely make a trade for someone better, but as of now, Källgren is the likely number three.

Grade: C-

Acquiring D Colin Miller from Dallas in Exchange for a 2025 Fifth Round Pick

The Devils needed a veteran right-handed defenceman entering free agency but left the day trading for one. The free agent contracts being handed out were absurd, so bringing in Miller and his $1.85 million cap hit was a savvy move. Miller likely slots in on the third pairing, and should provide a steady two-way game.

Grade: B-

Re-signing F Nathan Bastian to 2 x $2.7 Million Contract

Bastian has solidified himself as a very solid fourth-liner on this team. He and McLeod have phenomenal chemistry together, and Bastian brings size and a reckless abandon play style that no one else does. He’s become more of a fan favourite than anything, but “Bass” is a useful player that is worth keeping on the roster.

Grade: C+

Signing F Chris Tierney to 1 x $775k Contract

Chris Tierney once upon a time was one of the big pieces in the Erik Karlsson to San Jose trade. Now he’s signing with the Devils fighting to be a depth piece. Nothing against him, but there’s a lot of competition for the few spots available. His best bet is to bid his time in the AHL and hope for a call-up in the event of an injury.

Grade: C

Signing F Tomas Nosek to 1 x $1 Million Contract

Shortly after bringing in Tierney, the Devils brought in a player who is likely to take one of those open spots. Nosek is one of the better moves this off-season. Other than being cheap, he is a willing penalty killer, good at face-offs, and has loads of playoff experience. He likely finds himself on McLeod and Bastian’s wing on that fourth line.

Grade: B+

Re-signing D Kevin Bahl to 2 x $2.1 Million Contract

Bahl had a steady season after taking over the third-pairing spot from Brendan Smith. He towers over everyone he plays against, and at 23 years old, still has time to develop into a shutdown defenseman. The organization is excited to see how he plays throughout a full 82-game schedule.

Grade: B

Signing D Cal Foote to 1 x $800k Contract

The brother of Devils prospect Nolan, Cal Foote was once a very promising prospect. As a part of the Tampa Bay Lighting, Foote was once expected to be part of their core. Fast forward a few years and he’ll be fighting for the 7/8 defenceman spot. He is a right-handed defenceman, something the organization lacks, and he’s still just 24 years old. There is a path for Foote to carve himself out a career being the Devil’s seventh defenceman. As a low-risk high-reward signing, there is a lot to like about this move.

Grade: A-

Main Photo: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports






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