New Jersey Devils
Photo Credit: Claudio J. De La Rosa

A Winning Narrative in New Jersey

The years of misery and suffering as a New Jersey Devils fan are long gone as players are signing here and happy to be traded here because they want to win.

It all started when star defender Dougie Hamilton joined the team in free agency during the 2021 offseason. Hamilton was one of, if not, the biggest name in free agency that summer. General manager Tom Fitzgerald convinced him to sign here for a seven year, $63 million contract. Little did management and fans know, that his signing would be the turning point of the team.

The Devils had potential to become something great when they drafted Nico Hischier, who is now captain, in 2017 and Jack Hughes in 2019 both first overall. This was the beginning of what many thought would be a long rebuild. Fast forward to the Hamilton signing and the rebuild seemed to rapidly speed up.

As players like Hischier, Hughes and Bratt began to become complete players in the NHL and with the addition of Hamilton, other players started to notice the Devils again.

In the 2022 offseason, veteran players Erik Haula and Ondrej Palat were traded and signed here. Haula was dealt here in a one-for-one trade sending Pavel Zacha to the Boston Bruins, while Palat signed a five-year deal after testing free agency. Haula has enjoyed his time with the Devils as he calls this team home and just recently signed an extension.

Another sign and trade was with Vitek Vanecek. Vanecek was traded here from the Washington Capitals and almost immediately signed a three-year extension with the Devils. He has quickly become a fan favorite as he led New Jersey back to the playoffs.

The next huge name that really put New Jersey back on the map was Timo Meier being traded to the New Jersey Devils. Meier was one of the biggest names during this season's trade deadline. Meier then signed an extension for eight more years with the Devils. When signing his contract, he took a lower AAV with the Devils because of the potential he saw in the team.

“I wanted to be in Jersey. That’s no secret,” Meier expressed to the media.

Nathan Bastian and Michael McLeod both signed extensions with New Jersey this summer. In their meeting with the media, both explained how GM Fitzgerald had the upper hand in dealing with the contract because of their desire to stay with New Jersey. Bastian came out to say he did not want to even test out the waters of free agency.

Tyler Toffoli was recently traded to New Jersey, telling the media how excited he is to join the team. Toffoli is already hoping for an extension with the Devils.

The latest addition to the team was Tomas Nosek, another veteran player. Nosek was testing free agency and decided to sign with the Devils for one year.

In past years, the Devils would be overlooked during free agency, most likely on a good amount of player’s NTC lists. But, that is no longer the case as the Devils sped up their rebuild to being a top five team in the league. The winning narrative that New Jersey once had seems to be making its way back as more and more players sign here for the reason of wanting to win.

As the window for the Devils has just opened, it will be interesting to see what other big names will want to join the Devils in the upcoming years.

Gabrielle Nordstrom

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