New Jersey Devils General Manager Ray Shero has repeatedly stated how important cap space is in today’s NHL and he’s right; how many bad contracts have been bought out or traded for next to nothing in recent history? Devils fans should be appreciative of how shrewd Shero has been with both his deals and his cap space. At the same time, this is a team coming off of its first playoff appearance in five seasons and the expectation is that they take another step forward next season.
One way Shero has been successful in improving New Jersey under his watch has been through his trading; while not every one has been a complete success, he has used his resources wisely while re-shaping what Devils hockey looks like. Kyle Palmieri, Taylor Hall, Sami Vatanen and Marcus Johansson have all come to Jersey’s Team under through Shero making smart trades.
So does Ray have some more magic left during this summer? If he doesn’t, some predict that the Devils could take a step back rather than forward this year. A quick look over at CapFriendly, however, shows that making a move this offseason might not be as easy as it appears. A cursory glance reveals a number of teams are close to, if not pressed right up against (looking at you St. Louis Blues) the salary cap. Inspecting said close teams though shows that most of those teams have their rosters set, and if they aren’t completely there, they can fill out their rosters with minimum salary players.
There are two teams that kind of have cap issues due to having a restricted free agent still unsigned and that would be the Detroit Red Wings and, Shero’s favorite, the Edmonton Oilers. The Oilers are a lesser case here, as they may not actually be in trouble should Darnell Nurse re-sign for a cap hit under $5 million; he could also accept a short bridge deal, so the Oilers might wind up pressed to the cap a la St. Louis but can still seemingly make it work.
If Shero wants to target a cap strapped team, Detroit is the fit with Dylan Larkin still needing to be re-signed. There are a couple of impediments here: firstly is that the Red Wings have Johan Franzen’s contract which will immediately go on injured reserve as soon as they can do so to maximize cap space. Again, a team with seemingly no cap space may just be able to find enough. The second problem is the larger one anyway: the Wings don’t really have many assets that they would realistically trade that would be of interest to Jersey.
If Shero is going to swing a trade, he’s going to have to find a team that has a player (read: defender) that would improve the Devils while also parting with a decent piece. Essentially what would have to be done is another Sami Vatanen for Adam Henrique (or Taylor Hall for Adam Larsson) style trade; a good hockey trade that addresses a need for both teams. As to what teams/general managers he may approach, well that’s anyone’s guess. Shero has swung his fair number of trades so far in his New Jersey tenure; he’s running out of time if he’d like to add another one before the 2018-19 season opens.
Thank you as always for reading!