It's been awhile since the Devils have had any significant news on the business side of the game. No news is likely good news for fans. Back in August, Josh Harris and friends decided to take over ownership from Jeff Vanderbeek. They committed $320 million up front to purchase the team and its debts and committed to the long-term for the Devils. So, now that the team has significant financial backing, let's take a look at how that is going.
One way to tell if the Devils are on a strong financial track is to see whether or not the team is spending the necessary money they need to win. Now, I'm not saying that teams that spend the most money win, especially not in hockey. But spending significantly above the cap floor most definitely increases your chances of winning the cup.
According to CapGeek, the Devils are spending as much as they can, with about $127,666 in remaining cap space. That technically puts them at 13th in the league in spending, but the 12 teams in front of the Devils have zero cap space. This is up significantly from the extra $10 million in cap space the Devils had after last season, when their financial situation was in turmoil.
The long-term scenario is also favorable. The Devils have quite a few key players signed for 3+ years; Travis Zajac, Patrik Elias, Ryane Clowe, Adam Henrique, Dainius Zubrus, Anton Volchenkov. Next season the Devils have $23.6 million in available cap space to help surround these players with more talent, or perhaps sign Cory Schneider to a long-term contract where he is the de-facto #1 goaltender in the Devils crease.
While having an owner whose reported net worth is over $2 billion is helpful, the Devils will still need to put fans in the seats in order to keep the team from hemorrhaging money. The Devils organization dropped ticket prices this season, but that hasn't kept butts in seats.
The Devils average only 14,162 fans per game. That is roughly 80% of the capacity of the Prudential Center. Last season, the Devils came off a spectacular playoff run, and they average an attendance of 17,115, almost 100% attendance. The closest the Devils got to selling out this year was versus the Islander on October 4th, when 16,624 fans came to the game, 1,001 fans short of a sellout. The Devils worst attendance was November 25th, versus the Jets, when the Devils only sold 12,153 tickets.
Of the three games that sold more than 90% of the seats, they were against Metropolitan Division rivals. The two games that saw less than 70% attendance were against Western Conference teams (Kings and Jets). Therefore, we will likely see attendance increase slightly as more division games come to the Prudential Center. The Devils have eight more Metropolitan games left to play at the Rock.
While the Devils may not be the best team this year, they have the strong financial backing and decent attendance figures to continue the excellence they've displayed in years past. Now that the Devils have the business side bolted down and secured, let's hope they can succeed on the hockey side!