Ray Shero and the Devils are one of the more interesting cases during this draft/free agent period where teams try to make moves to improve themselves for next season.
He’s new to the Devils. He’s a fresh face to the organization that saw GM Lou Lamoriello run it with an iron fist since 1987. He’s sort of hip – well not really. But Shero has a chance to put his imprint on a franchise that desperately needs new life and new blood. Shero was hired earlier in the offseason when Lamoriello finally gave up his post. Last year, Shero was fired by the Pittsburgh Penguins.
“I think anybody is looking to do that,” Shero said. “Every team has different challenges and we’re no different in New Jersey. With the sixth overall pick, hopefully we can get a really good player there and depending on what else we may do in the summer time.”
He has a major task in front of him. Since their 2012 Stanley Cup run, the Devils have lost player after player and tried to replace them with older retreads. Their top five scorers last year were Adam Henrique, Mike Cammalleri, Patrik Elias, Scott Gomez and Steve Bernier.
Out of those five, Henrique is the only real building block. Their other major solid player is goaltender Cory Schneider. Forward Ryane Clowe has been a disaster.
That's like a hodge podge of players who were good in three different EA Sports video game eras.
This team has been captained by Bryce Salvador since Zach Parise left in free agency. I repeat, Bryce Salvador has been this team’s captain since 2013. In 10 years 2014-15 Devils will be the poster team for pseudo older non-star hockey players.
That could end with Salvador’s pending unrestricted free agency. And for New Jersey’s sake, hopefully the team will allow Gomez, Michael Ryder and Martin Havlat to also walk.
Is the mess too thick for Shero to fix? In Lou We Trust notes the Devils should have salary cap space under the new $71.4 million ceiling.
It is because of this salary cap space, why I keep suggesting in my posts about impending unrestricted free agents by position, the Devils can make a splash. I don't think there are too many free agents that they should spend a lot on. I will agree that the UFA class outside of defensemen is weak. However, they can afford to do so and it could be justified with the idea that the player would likely still be a valued contributor when the team has been re-built.
Basically New Jersey will have to make sure it won’t overpay like it has for some older parts in the past.
As for the No. 6 pick, Shero’s philosophy is simple:
“It’s got to be best player, I think, especially when you’re picking this high,” Shero said. “There’s other parts of the Draft that you’re going off the list, and saying ‘Listen this is the time we’re going to take a goalie.'”
This is important, since the team hasn’t quite had the same pipeline through its system in recent years.
Shero was quiet most of last season from a media perspective, spending family time. But he kept relations with potential trading partners.
“I found out when you’re not working for a team, it’s a lot easier to get information or get asked about information, how people do things about certain players,” Shero said. “I think that was very beneficial.”
So far, outside of hiring John Hynes, the Devils have been quiet. Does that end now? We'll find out this week.
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