It is no secret that the New Jersey Devils need another top-six winger. Jack Hughes is a superstar center and does not need to move to the wing. Meanwhile, the team is currently in negotiations with Jesper Bratt. But after him, the top six is thin, and Nico Hischier needs a winger of his own to play with.
For the longest time, the Devils were rumored to be interested in Kevin Fiala. Ultimately they were one of the front runners, but they missed out as he went to the Los Angeles Kings and signed a contract that carries an AAV of $7.9 million. Bill Guerin got a first-round pick this draft, which I’m not sure the Devils would’ve parted with second overall. There is no need to panic as other names are out there via free agency or on the trade market. The Devils currently have $25 million in cap space and can afford to lure a big fish in.
Who Is Out There?
The New Jersey Devils have other options. Tom Fitzgerald can opt to use the pick as a trade chip and bring someone proven in or draft a player available at number two overall. Or he has the opportunity to open up the checkbook and sign someone on the open market. Who is out there that would be worth bringing in?
After missing out on the Kevin Fiala sweepstakes, the team can still bring in a player via trade. The Chicago Blackhawks are reportedly taking offers for the star winger. The Devils should pounce on this. Debrincat is an outstanding player and the Devils’ type of goal scorer. Those who argue that “he’s too small” are just silly.
The winger just scores goals. In five seasons, all with Chicago, he has scored 160 goals, 147 assists, and 307 points. The winger has scored 40 goals twice, the 30-goal mark once, and also scored 28 goals. This past season he led the team with 41 goals and finished second with 78 points, which would have led the Devils. With his ability to find the back of the net, he would look good next to Hughes or Hischier.
The biggest fish on the market. While he can still sign with the Calgary Flames, playing close to home would entice the star winger. The south New Jersey native is coming off a career year and would slide right onto the top line. Johnny Gaudreau scored 40 goals, 75 assists, and 115 points. What’s impressive for the player is that 52 of his 75 assists were primary. He went on to finish with an on-ice goals percentage of 74.5%. Gaudreau would be outstanding but comes at a hefty price tag, and the team has other needs to fill.
Another big-time winger on the open market. While the Nashville Predators could still manage to sign the goal scorer, he could still land on the open market. If the Devils opt to pass on Gaudreau, they could turn their heads to Forsberg.
Forsberg is another winger who can put the puck in the net. Aside from being flashy and doing “The Michigan,” he’s been the best goal scorer for the Predators. In his ten seasons in the league, he has hit the 20-goal marker five times and 30 goals twice. And like Gaudreau, he is coming off a career year, hitting 40 goals for the first time. He scored 84 points for the Predators and was a large part of their success in clinching a playoff berth. It’s another costly option, but if the shoe fits the bill, Fitzgerald could come calling.
This is a cheaper but practical option. He will have plenty of suitors on the open market after a Stanley Cup Championship. He is an intriguing option and has always shown consistency in his offensive game. Having split time between the Washington Capitals and Colorado Avalanche, Burakovsky has consistently hit double-digit point totals. And like the rest of the high-flying Avalanche, he scored 61 points. He has never scored more than 20 goals but has always hit the 10-plus goal mark.
He can slide next to Hischier without a doubt in my mind and be a good option that won’t break the bank. It is worth looking into if you are the Devils as it is an upgrade to the lineup.
It all depends on what the Montreal Canadiens do at number one. If they take Shane Wright, the Devils have the luxury of drafting for need by taking big winger Juraj Slafkovsky. This is a pick for need as he can slide right into the top six. He has the playmaking ability and the scoring touch to be an effective top-six winger. If Shane Wright falls into their lap, they can slide Dawson Mercer to wing, where he played some this season, and Wright can play center.
The New Jersey Devils need more scoring. They are highlighted by star centers in Jack Hughes and Nico Hilscher. Rookie phenom Dawson Mercer can play both and is a fine winger in the top six. Jesper Bratt is the best they have, but outside of him, it’s thin. With the names out on the open market, the ability to add is there for the picking. Do they need to go for the biggest fish? No. But adding a top-six threat would do wonders for the offensive attack. It should be a fun offseason, and it is right around the corner.