The New Jersey Devils have had quite the off-season. They locked up their two most valuable RFAs (Restricted Free Agents) in Timo Meier and Jesper Bratt and acquired Tyler Toffoli and Colin Miller through trades. The last RFA they still need to lock up is Kevin Bahl who should only command a healthy $1M per year.
With the Devils getting the most important moves out of the way, it still remains to be seen if GM Tom Fitzgerald is going to dip into the goalie market.
Per Cap Friendly, the Devils have $5.6M remaining in cap space and rumors have been swirling since the start of free agency if the Devils will have interest in adding an elite goaltender.
Today we’re going to dive into the goaltender market and investigate who the Devils may have an interest in acquiring.
Remaining Goaltender Targets for the New Jersey Devils
At the beginning of Free Agency, Pierre LeBrun reported on TSN that the Devils have an interest in acquiring Connor Hellebuyck.
Hellebuyck has one year remaining on his contract with a cap hit of $6,166,666 which would bring him to free agency as a UFA (Unrestricted Free Agent) for the 2024-25 season.
No doubt about it, Hellebuyck is the best goaltender available. He has an average SV% (Save Percentage) of .916 with a GAA (Goals Against Average) of 2.66 over his entire career.
Don’t get me wrong, Hellebuyck is among the best of the best and gives you elite consistency but that is a huge cap hit. If the Devils acquired Hellebuyck, the Winnipeg Jets would have to retain some salary to make it work. In return, the Devils would have to part with some serious assets for a goaltender who would become a UFA by the end of the season.
On 32 Thoughts podcast, Elliotte Friedman added Anaheim Ducks goaltender John Gibson to the list of potential New Jersey Devil targets.
Gibson is tied to a long contract with a $6.4M AAV (Average Annual Value) with four years remaining that brings him to free agency as a UFA in 2027-28.
Gibson is a freak athlete who has struggled for the past five years. We know he’s a very athletic goaltender, but his numbers have fallen off a cliff partly due to playing for a struggling Ducks team who tends to give up plenty of high-danger chances. Over the last five seasons, Gibson has been sporting a .905 SV% and averaging a 3.2 GAA.
I would not be a fan of acquiring Gibson from the Ducks. There’s simply too much risk in attaining a struggling goaltender who has four years remaining on a relatively pricy contract. Though a change of scenery could be exactly what Gibson needs, there’s just too much risk in taking that chance.
A week or two ago, it was reported by a few outlets that goaltender Logan Thompson would make sense as a possible fit for the Devils.
Thompson is a 26-year-old goaltender for the Las Vegas Golden Knights with 57 games of NHL experience under his belt. What is so appealing about Thompson is he’s signed to a very team-friendly deal with a cap hit of $766,667 for the next two years which will bring him to free agency as a UFA.
There’s not too much data to go off, but in a vacuum, he’s done a pretty good job. Over his entire career (57 games) he averages a .915 SV% with a GAA of 2.65.
If I were the Devils, this is the player and contract I’d be looking into. Thompson isn’t even close to an elite goaltender and certainly isn’t in the category of the last two players we’ve talked about, but risk vs reward here looks pretty good. Thompson has shown he’s capable of an NHL workload and could be a good option with a very team-friendly cap hit.
There hasn’t been too much noise surrounding Saros and the Devils, but we’ve recently started to hear a few rumblings.
Juuse Saros has two years left on his deal with an AAV of $5M, bringing him to free agency as a UFA for the 2025-26 season.
In my opinion, the 28-year-old Finnish netminder should be the Devils’ number one target if they decide to go after a goalie. Over the last five seasons, Saros has an average SV% of .919 with a GAA of 2.59.
Saros would give the Devils elite goaltending with a more reasonable cap hit than the other two options of Gibson and Hellebuyck. Last season, he led the league in GSAE (Goals Saved Above Expected), shots against, and shots saved.
With highly drafted prospect Yaroslav Askarov shortly on his way to the Nashville Predators, Saros could be on the move and he checks all of the boxes for what the Devils should be looking for. Getting two years of Saros below market value would be a great addition to this Devils team.
Adding a goaltender is more of a want for the Devils than a need. The organization could easily run back Vanecek and Schmid as their goaltenders for the upcoming season. GM Fitzgerald has quoted in recent weeks the interest in adding an elite goaltender, but he never ruled out the chance of bringing back Vanecek and Schmid. Whatever the Devils decide to do in the coming weeks, this team is going to be very fun to watch regardless.
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