This past season was an unbelievable one for the New Jersey Devils.
After being one of the league’s worst teams over the past few seasons, the Devils ended up being one of the NHL’s best teams in the 2022-23 season. They finished with the third-best record in the NHL at 52-22-0-8 for 112 points and just one point behind the Carolina Hurricanes for the top record in the Metropolitan Division.
Not only did they accomplish the above, but they also knocked out the New York Rangers in seven games in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs after being down 2-0 in the series. Yes, they would get knocked out in the second round by the Hurricanes, but the fact that they won the first round was a major step for this franchise.
It appears that the franchise has carried the good times into the off-season. Even with the team already going into the summer with a talented roster, the Devils have made it better.
For starters, they managed to lock up Timo Meier to an 8-year contract extension with an average annual value of $8.8 million. The team acquired Meier, 26, at least year’s trade deadline, and in 21 games with the club, he had nine goals and five assists for 14 points.
Having Meier for a full season is going to be a big difference. This is someone who can put the puck in the net, set up his teammates, be a contributor on the power play, and score big goals.
Secondly, the Devils went out and acquired Tyler Toffoli from the Calgary Flames in exchange for Yegor Sharangovich and the 80th overall pick in the 2023 NHL Entry Draft. Toffoli, 31, had a great season with the Flames last year as he had a career-high 73 points on 34 goals and 39 assists.
In Toffoli, the Devils have someone who works hard, competes for pucks, goes to the dirty areas to score goals, forechecks hard, and produces at a somewhat consistent level. He also adds to the team’s scoring depth.
The team also locked up forward Jesper Bratt to an eight-year, $63 million contract extension back on June 15. Bratt, 24, was one of the team’s best players last season as he finished the year with 73 points on 32 goals and 41 assists.
Since joining the NHL full-time in the 2017-18 season, Bratt has consistently become a better player. His production continues to go up, he is learning how to play well on both sides of the puck, and he is also showing that he is not afraid to shoot the puck.
When you add/extend/acquire, etc., all of these moves to a team that already has the likes of Jack Hughes, Nico Hischier, Dawson Mercer, Erik Haula, Dougie Hamilton, and Luke Hughes, and you have a team that is going to be a serious threat for hockey’s Holy Grail next season. This team can create offense, put the puck in the net, be lethal on the power play, and play solid defensively.
The only area that might need to be addressed is their goaltending. Yes, they already have Vitek Vanecek and Akira Schmid, who both played well last season and showed that they can get the team into the playoffs.
It will be interesting to see if the Devils address their goaltending or if they stay the course and hope that both Vanecek and Schmid take a big step forward next season.