After a rough exit via a sweep in the first round against the Panthers, the Devils have some challenging days ahead this summer. Multiple players were waived throughout the season to stay under the cap, which barely happened, but casualties like Boone Jenner and Nick Paul will be missed. Good players who were making slightly too much money, there was just no way to retain them. Despite that, the Devils still managed an eastern Conference best record of 52-23-7 with 11 points and a league best +101 goal differential. Most of that was because of the first question mark going into next year, Antti Raanta. He had a phenomal season for New Jersey, going 41-15-6 with a 2.38 GAA and .911 sv%. Unfortunately he turned into a pumpkin in the playoffs and absolutely got torched. Making 5 million a year for another 2 years he's getting worse and projects to be only marginally better than backup Chris Driedger. 10 million would be a lot to buy out however to keep roster spots in other areas it might have to happen.
Mainly that is because Kyle Connor, Charlie Coyle, Pierre-Luc Dubois, Denis Gurianov, Jakob Chychrun and Sam Girard are all coming up on new deals. Connor can be expected to need north of 5 million again, which Chychrun could also be seeing a 4-5 million payday if not more. The rest like Dubois, McAvoy and Gurianov will likely be between 2-3.5 million so a lot of money is coming after all these entry level deals ran out. This makes it seem like the window for New Jersye may have been this season but the Devils are still positive about next season and with a 1st round pick and a couple other picks in the draft are looking forward to getting some more youth into the system. The team has a few solid prospects but nobody else really on the border of stepping into the help the team within the next couple years in a big way, that means paying the core and keeping the team together is even more important.
Priorities are obviously those two listed above and beyond that it's likely trying to find a better or at least complimentary top six C compared to Dubois and Coyle. Both look like checking line guys or maybe bottom tier 2nd liners at this point. The team may needto reply on Kane and Connor to carry the offense again while a bunch of D chips in points. the top 4 on D should still be very solid with Edler, Jones, McAvoy and Chychrun so as long as the cap stays in line compared to last year the team is confident a solid team can be iced.