New Jersey Devils coach John Hynes was recently quoted by NHL.com as saying, “We need to have better players.” Now that quote could have been in response to saying the players need to train harder (which Hynes mentioned prior) or it could be about cutting loose some of the players who have under-performed in New Jersey.
The biggest need in New Jersey is better defense; while the forward were certainly outclassed against the Tampa Bay Lightning, having a group of defensemen that for the most part both could not defend or push play up the ice really hurt the team. The Devils will be looking for some upgrades here and as a result, they will have to say goodbye to some players who have been with the team for a bit. Some changes up front will probably aid the squad as well.
With all of that in mind, here are my suggested additions by subtraction:
Moore is a bit of a polarizing force among Devils fans, as some fans enjoy him for the offense he brings while others lament the fact that he’s lost in the woods in his own end. I personally think that his offense is a bit overrated as seen by this past season, and I feel New Jersey will definitely benefit from not having a player running around like a chicken without a head on defense.
Moore will also probably be looking for a raise, and while Jersey is in no trouble for cap space, the money could be best used elsewhere. While left defense is certainly a weakness on this team, Moore is part of the problem, not the solution.
I’m aware that The Reverend still has one more year on his current contract, but the Devils weren’t hesitant to buy out players last offseason; what’s stopping them from doing it again? While Lovejoy enjoyed more success in a reduced role this season, he still isn’t very productive, or all that good. He could be replaced with a cheaper (and probably better) option and the Devils would still have good veteran leadership in Andy Greene and Sami Vatanen. Of all of the parts on the back end that need to be changed, this is probably the one I would be most okay with if he did return next season.
Some fans may have enjoyed Mueller’s time so far in New Jersey; I cannot be counted as one of those people. He doesn’t really do anything all that well, and I’m still appalled that some fans think he’s making fewer mistakes than Damon Severson. I’m not going to lie either and say Severson is the complete package, but Mueller is average or below in each area of the ice. I’d be okay if he stuck around as the 7th D, but he continues to do nothing to show that he deserves to be more.
Michael Grabner, Drew Stafford and Jimmy Hayes
All three of these players fall into one listing because I believe they all should be gone for the same reason: they just do not fit with the current idea of Devils Hockey and/or the current Devils team. Grabner, on paper, seemed like he would be a good fit, but alas, he just never found any scoring touch here and re-signing him screams poor asset management. Stafford disappears for extended stretches and Hayes just isn’t an NHLer any longer due to his poor skating/speed. We have better depth options in the minors/juniors, so I’d rather not see any of these guys back in any role.
One Final Possibility
Addition by subtraction doesn’t necessarily mean just dumping players to me; you could also subtract a player in a position of strength to obtain a player in a position of need. My one concern, however, is the assets that New Jersey has remaining to make a deal. The team is flush with left wingers, and could even part with a roster player if it addresses the glaring hole at LD; Andy Greene CANNOT start there next season, so Ray Shero will need to work a bit more of his magic this offseason if he wants the Devils to take another step forward in 2018-19.
Who do you think the Devils should look to subtract in order to improve the team? Are there any realistic options that I did not mention that you could see the team parting with? Do you think there’s another “Shero Trade” to be made? Leave any and all comments below and thanks as always for reading!