An Early Look at the Devil's Off-Season

This will be another big off-season for the Devils as they try to ice a competitive team for the future. A few questions and things I'll be looking for:

1) Who will be the new GM?

2) Who will be the new coach?

3) What to do about Schneider/goalie situation? To quote the immortal Yogi Berra, it's deja vu all over again. If he plays well to close the season, the Devils have a conundrum. We've been here before. Obviously, Schneider cannot be relied on to be the clear #2 going into next season, but if he looks like a viable option, the Devils would probably not need to buy him out and go after the higher end goalie free agents. There is usually a goalie looking for work that can still be viable. Perhaps, someone like Dell or Hutchinson could be a #2/#3? Also, Senn has looked good this year as a #4 option. It's an important call for the new GM to make. Shero blew this one last year with no backup options and it probably cost him his job.

4) What to do with the next UFAs for the following season? Do the Devils extend Gusev or Palms early?

5) What do do with pending UFAs? They traded most of them, but decisions still have to be made with Mermis, Rooney and Claesson and Baddock and Street in Bing. I'd like to see Mermis extended personally. That's the only one I have a real opinion about.

6) What to do with pending RFAs? Bratt and Blackwood are due new contracts. So are Anderson, Mueller and Hayden on the big club. Merkely, Seney, Jacobs and White in Bing. Bratt and Blackwood are obviously the big ones. Do they get bridge deals or long term ones? Does the team cut bait with Hayden? The fanbase hopes so. Anderson and Merkely should be locks for new contracts. Mueller probably will be resigned. Seney likely too. I'm less sure about the others.

7) Can the Devils pry someone away from cap-strapped team? This was Shero's MO. Can Fitz or whoever the next GM is follow suit. Tampa Bay is in serious cap trouble next season and many of their players have NTCs. Sergachev is due a big raise as a RFA. Can they afford him?

8) Who should be traded from our team? Personally, I'd like to see Will Butcher traded. I think he has some value and doesn't fit long term plans. (Perhaps, he can get us our second and third round picks back this draft). I also think he is what he is at this point. The Devils prospect pool is strong on LHD and hopefully Ty Smith comes up and is ready for the NHL. As a rookie, he'd probably start where Butcher is now in the lineup. Another possible trade candidate could be Miles Wood or Michael McLeod. Wood may have some value. I'm not sure what he'd fetch. McLeod for some other team's reclamation project. I know he doesn't have much value.

9) What to do in Free Agency? The Devils will have to figure out the mess of their D corps and who will play wing with Jack Hughes next year as well as top line LW. I hope the Devils don't sign any big, long term free agents, but a few 1-2 year stopgap contracts would be perfect in a couple roles until some of the kids are ready.

10) Who gets ELCS? Who gets signed out of college? Mitchel Hoelscher, Tyce Thompson, Reilly Walsh, Aarne Talvitie, Mathew Hellickson, Xavier Bernhard are all considerations as well as Yegor Zaitsev and Akira Schmid. I haven't followed Hellickson closely enough to make a call on him, but I'd like to see the others signed. Maybe Talvitie needs one more year of college?

11) What to do at the NHL Draft? Personally, I'd like to see the Devils use their three picks (assuming the conditions are met for them to be in this draft). But trading is always an option. Who will the Devils select? There should be lots of good options available with all three picks. I'm sure there will be plenty of analyzing once we know exactly where they fall.

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