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Shero, the Sly Devil. GM Continues To Make Moves to Improve Devils

Kyle Palmieri (Rocky W. Widner/NHL/Getty Images)

Kyle Palmieri (Rocky W. Widner/NHL/Getty Images)


The dog days of summer are upon us. We’re four weeks removed from the start of NHL Free Agency, and a month removed from the 2016 NHL Entry Draft. Teams have about two more months before preseason begins and a select few of the world’s elite hockey players converge in Toronto for the World Cup. Keeping with tradition, July the First this year saw a whirlwind of signings and transactions. In the aftermath of the storm, which sent some big names such as Subban, Weber, and Hall to different locations, there is still some work to be done. After all, there’s no such thing as the offseason for General Managers. We’ll start the free agency analysis with the New Jersey Devils, a team that went largely under the radar, despite some smart moves in a short span by General Manager Ray Shero.

New Jersey made a splash this summer by dealing its star young defenseman, Adam Larsson, to Edmonton in exchange for Taylor Hall. While the trade might have seemed lop-sided, it’s important to remember that trades are made for mutual satisfaction and cater to the specific needs of each team. Oilers boast no shortage of young offensive talent but painfully lacked top blue-line support. Enter Adam Larsson. A maturing Larsson should help alleviate the pressure off former Rangers netminder, Cameron Talbot. Perhaps this season we see a return of the “Goalbuster” in Edmonton.

2,500 miles southeast of Edmonton, Taylor Hall will no doubt provide the offense the Devils so desperately need. He’ll likely play on the left side of Adam Henrique as the two are familiar with each other having played together on the Windsor Spitfires (OHL). Should Coach John Hynes choose to play the old chums together, Devils fans should expect to see Kyle Palmieri on the right wing of this top line (I would be remiss if I didn’t point out that all three are younger than 26; future of the franchise, anyone?). The second trio will likely consist of Mike Cammalleri and Devante Smith-Pelley flanking Travis Zajac in the middle.

While the top-six forwards for New Jersey are all but set in stone, many questions remain with regards to the bottom-six. Both Reid Boucher and the Devils organization have failed to file for salary arbitration, leaving Boucher still a restricted free agent. And with Joseph Blandisi signed for this season on a two-way contract, Devils fans are surely in the dark as to what Shero is going to do. While Blandisi will still have to fight for a roster spot come September, Boucher may be fighting for both a bottom-six role as well as a contract. While Boucher is a more productive forward and has tremendous discipline, Blandisi plays a grittier game, but also earning himself some extra time in the sin bin.

More questions remain with Patrik Elias. Will Elias decide to retire at 40-years old? What better way for Pavel Zacha to pay homage to his hero than by replacing him in the roster at third pivot? (Anyone see the 2001 film “Rock Star” starring Mark Walberg and Jennifer Aniston?)

In addition to the mystery behind lines three and four, Shero has some work to do in replacing Larsson. According to, Shero has about $13.2 million in cap space with 43 of the maximum 50 club roster spots fulfilled. With the loss of Larsson from the blue line, the question remains whether Shero will let some of the Albany Devils’ defenseman battle for the remaining defensive spot or look to the remaining available free agents. There are plenty of reliable defensemen still available such as Kyle Quincey, Dennis Seidenberg, Nikita Nikitin, and Kris Russell, just to mention a few. But what the Devils really need is a puck-moving defenseman, aside from Damon Severson, to contribute both on the powerplay and at even strength. My advice for Shero: David Rundblad.

On Tuesday, Chicago and Rundblad mutually agreed to terminate Rundblad’s contract. The 25-year old defenseman expressed his wishes to see more ice time. Rundblad is touted as a natural puck-moving defenseman. On loan this past season from the Blackhawks to Zurich SC of the Swiss-A league, he posted 15 points in 11 games. He’s had similar success in past seasons in the AHL as well. If given more minutes at the NHL level, perhaps Rundblad can show just how good he is. Though he’s been criticized for some defensive blunders, I think Shero ought to give him a call before he catches a flight to Europe. Tell him he’s guaranteed a roster spot, and even overpay him a little, given the abundant cap room available. Better yet, it’s North Jersey – make him an offer he can’t refuse (I kid, I kid).

All in all, Devils fans should applaud Shero for building the Devils back up these last two summers. For the most part, Shero is working with a young squad right on the edge of clinching a playoff berth. With solid goaltending in Cory Schneider, and a signing or two at the blue line, 2016-17 should be a fun season for Devils fans to watch.

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Evan is the Hockey Editor for He provides coverage of the New Jersey Devils, New York Rangers, New York Islanders, and Philadelphia Flyers, as well as some league-wide content.

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