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Flying Under the Radar: Devils Sign John Moore

Unlike last year when the Devils made a couple splashes into Free Agent Frenzy early, this year Ray Shero and company have been laying low for the most part. Their first signing of the day comes two and a half hours into free agency: John Moore.

The newest Devil...for now.
The newest Devil...for now.
Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

Ever since Ilya Kovalchuk left for his home country and the KHL two years ago, Lou Lamoriello and the New Jersey Devils have been looking to stay relevant mostly through a plethora of free agent signings that were over 30 years old.  As fans, we have seen the likes of Jaromir Jagr, Ryane Clowe, Michael Ryder and Martin Havlat don the red and black.  Even trades have brought in older veterans, namely Tuomo Ruutu.

Ray Shero, however, has committed to getting younger and letting the kids play through this rebuild.  Despite the overriding thought process from this website and elsewhere that the Devils could possibly use another veteran defenseman to come in and help lead this squad of young blue liners, Shero went out and added to that youth.  With their first signing of the day, the Devils inked John Moore, a defenseman with a left-handed shot that split time last year between the New York Rangers and the Arizona Coyotes.  John Moore was sent to Arizona mid-year as part of the Keith Yandle deal, and as he is only 24 years old, was a RFA entering the offseason.  However, the Coyotes opted to not qualify him.  This left him as a free agent entering today, and the Devils pounced.  As per Bob McKenzie, the particulars of the deal:

Over three years, that comes out to $4.8 million that the Devils will spend on Moore over the course of the deal.  At the end of the deal, Moore will indeed be a free agent at 27 years old unless the Devils choose to re-sign him at that point and keep him around.

UPDATE: From Tom Gulitti, contract is a little more expensive, but just barely:

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Three years, $5 million officially for John Moore (cap hit of $1,666,667).</p>&mdash; Tom Gulitti (@TGfireandice) <a href="">July 1, 2015</a></blockquote>

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Here are his stats as per Hockey-Reference:

As you can see, Moore is not a point producer.  His best year was with the Rangers in 2013-14, when he produced 4 goals and 11 assists in 74 games played.  However, this does not mean that he is a bad player.  As per Puckalytics, Moore has gradually improved with his possession stats.  His first year in the league, 2010-11 with Columbus, he had a 48.6% Corsi For and was a negative Corsi player on his team.  This past year, however, he had a 50.9% Corsi For, and was a positive Corsi player on the Coyotes.  So he has improved in terms of possession, and has become a positive possession player as he has aged.  This will be important for a rebuilding Devils team that looks to once again become a dominant possession team like it was not too long ago.

My Thoughts

There are two reasons as to why I believe this signing is a good one for the Devils.  First is age.  Defensemen have a steeper learning curve and take longer to fully realize their potential than forwards.  John Moore is only 24 years old, and really should still be improving as a player.  His possession numbers generally prove this to be true as well.  We may not see Moore produce his best hockey on the ice until the second or even third year of this deal, and that is a good thing for this team.  The Devils do not need someone who is peaking now and who will decline as the team gets good again.  They need someone who will improve with this team, and Moore has the potential to do just that given his age and past progression to this point.

Second is that the contract itself is very team-friendly.  $1.6 million per year is a good price for a defenseman who should be able to come in here and eat up 20 minutes a night against second or third line competition.  And considering his age once again, the length is just fine.  He will be 27 when the contract ends, and if he continues to improve like we now all hope that he will, the Devils could then ink him to a longer deal to keep him here through his prime.

The question now becomes where he fits in with this defense as it stands.  If you slot him in the second pairing, the top four could look something like this (if everything stays as is):

Andy Greene - Damon Severson

Adam Larsson - John Moore

At that point, you then have Jon Merrill, Eric Gelinas, and the plethora of young talent beneath them.  If the Devils had brought in an older veteran, I would not have thought twice about it, as he would then be sort of a mentor to the younger talent.  The Moore signing, however, makes me think that there is a chance he could be replacing either Merrill or Gelinas.  Is Shero looking to move one of them?  I guess time will tell and this is not the right forum to speculate on that too much, but it did cross my mind when I heard of the signing.

Your Thoughts

Now that you have heard about the signing, read up on his stats and heard my opinion, what are your thoughts?  Do you like the signing? Do you hate it?  Either way, tell us why.  How do you project him to fit into this Devils lineup?  What does this signing do for those currently on the roster?  Please leave your comments in the section below, and thanks for reading.