The New Jersey Devils are well ahead of their rebuild schedule and despite making an appearance in the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs in the spring, they’re not finished just yet.
Generally, it’s assumed that once a team reaches the postseason, their rebuild is officially over and the quest for the title begins. However, this is not realistic. Between a rebuild and contention for playoffs is limbo, and this is where the Devils fall.
While they have their core group of top six forwards for the next 5-10 years, New Jersey is missing key components that will transcend this team into becoming a nightmare for opponents across the NHL. Those components include a physical bottom-six and a core four on the backend for defense.
Goaltending has a thick asterisk next to it, as the coaching staff and general manager, Tom Fitzgerald, still need to see what they have in their current rotation of Vitek Vanecek as the starter and Akira Schmid as the likely backup for the 2023-24 NHL season. For that reason, netminders will not be considered in this list, though it would be interesting to see John Gibson in black and red.
Taking a look at three inexpensive players who could make the New Jersey Devils instant Stanley Cup contenders in the 2023-24 NHL season.
Wearing our tinfoil hat, we will play general manager for the day and look across the league at comparatively inexpensive players who can fill the few remaining holes in this lineup and will give the Devs what they need to become genuine Stanley Cup contenders.
Due to the team’s astoundingly young age, with the average age of skaters being 26.15 years old (per hockey reference), we’re looking at players who are between the ages of 25 and 35. Because the Devils are so young and have so many prospects, there’s no need to pursue anyone less than 25 years of age as they need players with experience being in the NHL.
With all of this being said, let’s talk about the three players the New Jersey Devils could acquire to get out of limbo and into contention for their first Stanley Cup since 2003.