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Taking Inventory: The Roster, The Draft, and The Free Agents

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In the last weekday post before draft week and free agency shortly thereafter, we take inventory on the current Devils roster, the needs, and some available solutions via draft and free agency.

Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

With the draft, and free agency coming up, I thought it might be useful to take a current inventory of what the devils have for those who aren't already aware of the makeup of the roster. In this article I'll try to give a very brief breakdown of the current makeup of the team, identify biggest needs that the team has and try to link to some of the possible solutions.

Position Caveat

The information in this article is drawn from War on Ice, NHLNumbers, Spotrac, Central Scouting, NHL.com, and ESPN.com among others. As such, the positional designations can vary greatly. I've done my best to synchronize the data, but some of it may still be a bit off. If you feel I've made an egregious error somewhere then please comment below and I'll do my best to keep the article updated with any confirmed corrections.

Devils Current Roster

The table below is courtesy of Spotrac, my personal choice for salary cap information.

PLAYER
POS.
2015-16
2016-17
2017-18
2018-19
2019-
Cory Schneider G $6,000,000 $6,000,000 $6,000,000 $6,000,000 $6,000,000
Travis Zajac C $5,750,000 $5,750,000 $5,750,000 $5,750,000 $5,750,000
Patrik Elias C $5,500,000 UFA - - -
Andy Greene D $5,000,000 $5,000,000 $5,000,000 $5,000,000 $5,000,000
Mike Cammalleri LW $5,000,000 $5,000,000 $5,000,000 $5,000,000 UFA
Ryane Clowe LW $4,850,000 $4,850,000 $4,850,000 UFA -
Adam Henrique C $4,000,000 $4,000,000 $4,000,000 $4,000,000 UFA
Tuomo Ruutu LW $3,800,000 UFA - - -
Dainius Zubrus LW $3,100,000 UFA - - -
Stephen Gionta RW $850,000 UFA - - -
Jon Merrill D $840,000 RFA - - -
Jordin Tootoo RW $825,000 UFA - - -
Jacob Josefson C $800,000 RFA - - -
Keith Kinkaid G $725,000 $725,000 RFA - -
Damon Severson D $605,833 $605,833 RFA - -
Bryce Salvador D - - - - -
Michael Ryder RW - - - - -
Adam Larsson D - - - - -
Martin Havlat LW - - - - -
Peter Harrold D - - - - -
Scott Gomez C - - - - -
Eric Gelinas D - - - - -
Mark Fraser D - - - - -
Steve Bernier RW - - - - -

As a supplement, this is a breakdown of how many active NHLers are under each position and what the total cap hit for each is:


C RW LW D G
Players under Contract 4 2 4 3 2
Total 2015-16 Cap Hit $16,050,000 $1,675,000 $16,750,000 $6,445,833 $6,725,000
Cap Hit per player $4,012,500 $837,500 $4,187,500 $2,148,611 $3,362,500

This is all in addition to the Minor League contracts listed below:

PLAYER
POS.
BASE SALARY
SIGNING BONUS
INCENTIVES
CAP FIGURE
Reid Boucher LW $742,500 $92,500 - $692,500
Raman Hrabarenka D $742,500 $92,500 - $692,500
Ryan Kujawinski C $692,500 $92,500 - $692,500
Graham Black C $650,000 $75,000 $100,000 $650,000
Ben Thomson LW $635,000 $60,000 - $626,667
Ben Johnson C $625,000 $50,000 - $616,667
Reece Scarlett D $600,000 - - $613,333
Brandon Burlon D $575,000 - - $562,500
Dan Kelly D $575,000 - - $562,500
Mike Sislo RW $575,000 - - $562,500
Joseph Blandisi RW - - - -
Sergey Kalinin RW - - - -
Vojtech Mozik D - - - -

According to NHLNumbers, that Blandisi Contract is for $665,000. We are still crunching the numbers on Sergey Kalinin and Vojtech Mozik. Also worth noting is the absence of Seth Helgeson and Stefan Matteay who do still need contracts. Accounting for the Minor League contracts, the positional breakdown looks like this:

C RW LW D G
Players under Contract 7 3 6 7 2
Total 2015-16 Cap Hit $18,017,500 $2,250,000 $18,127,500 $8,938,333 $6,725,000
Cap Hit per player $2,573,929 $750,000 $3,021,250 $1,276,905 $3,362,500

For your own reference, War-on-Ice has prettied up their Cap Info as well and that has a pretty comprehensive overview of everything here as well.

Current Performance and Offseason Availability

Below is a chart from War on Ice Data. Since I am focusing on 2015-16 solutions, I'm really only interested in the elite draft players. Based on my informal analysis of opinions the consensus is a top 2 (McDavid, Eichel), a next 3 (Hanifin, Strome, Marner), and a final 8 (Crouse, Barzal, Rantanen, Zacha, Meier, Connor, Werenski, Provorov). If we here at ILWT have done a profile, I linked to that. If not, I've linked to Elite Prospects. The Free Agency column has a link to John's articles (there will be a formal hub exclusively for this information as we approach free agency) and since we've yet to cover defenders, I linked to General Fanager's list of available ones from which you may perform your own research.

Players Pts TOI G P/60 Free Agency Top 13 Draft Players
C 4 113 4723.9 280 1.4 ILWT: FA Cs McDavid( EP), Eichel (EP), Strome (EP), MarnerZachaBarzal
L 5 70 3494.7 243 1.2 ILWT: FA LWs CrouseConnor (EP)
R 3 29 1633.2 139 1.1 ILWT: FA RWs MeierRantanen
D 4 53 4401.9 200 0.7 ILWT: FA Ds Hanifin (EP), Werenski
Provorov


Commentary

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to determine that Right Wing is our most glaring need. It's also pretty clear that that is why Shero's first move was to sign Jordin Tootoo. That is something that will need to be fixed for this year since we don't have enough to ice a respectable roster without them, so expect some signings and re-signings. Timo Meier and Mikko Rantanen are two very promising players (Rantanen higher ceiling, Meier higher floor) that could slide into one of those positions. Despite the glaring deficiency at the position though, I typically do not advocate for need-based drafting especially specific needs like a right-winger or a shooting forward.

Most of the best available players in the draft are coming up as centers. Some will likely switch to the wing -- Marner and Zacha are the clearest candidates to switch to right and left wing respectively. This also would make Marner an offensive right-winger which makes him a Devil fan's dream at the moment. Better to not get our hopes up though. Regardless, it would appear that center is actually lowest on our list of needs from a roster standpoint currently. Now, Zajac-haters would retort that we lack a true #1 center which makes it a prime position for the draft since #1 centers are not typically available in free agency at all let alone at a reasonable price. But, Ryan's ground-breaking work with passing data recently identified Zajac as a very underrated player. Among other things, he notes that Zajac generated 7 royal road passes to Cammalleri who scored on none of them. Now I'm not saying we are set at center, all I'm saying is that we might be better prepared at that position than any other.

My plan would include grabbing the best forward available in the draft (unless Hanifin slides); re-signing Gomez, Bernier, and the young defenders; signing one veteran defender; and filling in the rest of the roster spots with cost-effective free agents. I would only expect one signing to be over $2 million -- either a young forward (Frolik, Beleskey) or a veteran defenceman (Martin, Oduya?) That plan would have us take only one salary cap chance, and field an encouraging if not respectable roster.

Your Thoughts

Heading into draft week and free agency shortly thereafter, what's your plan? What is something that you really think the team needs to come out of these next couple weeks having accomplished? What do you want to see out of your new GM and what do you expect to see out of him? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below