GM Ray Shero met with the media on Wednesday to discuss the Devils offseason, free agency and development camp. In his first interview since the close of the 2017-18 campaign, Shero remained candid and patient in his remarks, relying on the Devils cap flexibility and young talent as the club's greatest assets moving forward. Check out his comments below or watch the full media scrum here.
Shero on the Devils activity during the Free Agency period since July 1:
"This is my third year. We've never been active on July 1. Last year was the [Marcus] Johansson trade, but this is the process of building a team. Realistically, we'll have 11 forwards from our team last year once we have Wood, Coleman and Noesen sign; seven defensemen and two goaltenders. Are there avenues to improve the team? Absolutely. We have cap space flexibility and it's one of those things…We were on a few guys in the free agency market…Patrick Maroon was the last one, who we really wanted to have back. We offered him a lot more money on a one-year deal and I've known him for a few years now and I'm really, really proud of his decision and why he made it, for his son. I have a lot of respect for the decision he made. He was a good asset for us and trade for us."
"We have lots of flexibility and plenty of time. You can improve the team the same ways in November. We did the Vatanen and Henrique trade then. We'll be patient and see where we go. It's the evolution of our team. Look at some of these younger players at this time last year. Keep in mind we didn't have Will Butcher at this point. No one even knew who Jesper Bratt was. [Blake] Coleman. [Stefan] Noesen. They were on two-way contracts last year. Those guys had opportunities and took advantage of it. We're in that position to take advantage of any opportunity in the market, even with free agents who are still out there. We'll see where it goes. I don't mind the spot that we're in."
Shero on status of Cory Schneider's rehab from lower-body injury:
"I really don't know yet. I think I'll get an update from our trainers and staff in the next few days. If it's 4-6 months, it's the right time to get this taken care of. We're not going to rush him."
Shero on Nico Hischier's rehab from a hand injury:
"He'll be fine. It was disappointing obviously for him especially Switzerland had such a great World Championships that he could've been a part of. I know it was the right call for him [to not skate at the World Championships] but at the same time, disappointing for him…He'll be ready for camp and everything is good with him."
"If we can add the right player, we'll do it. We still want to improve the team, if possible. I like where we are. I like our flexibility. I like where are younger players are and our veterans."
Shero on Mirco Mueller and the departure of John Moore:
"I'm happy for Johnny Moore. He got a five-year deal in Boston. He's one of my favorite guys. He did a great job here for three years. I think with Mueller, especially with the way he started and finished the year, the way he played in the World Championships, that's the natural evolution. Guys like Mueller stepped up. Certainly, the way Will Butcher played last year but also at the World Championships, [increasing] his growth, more ice-time and that's the turnover. Johnny Moore was here for three years and left it a better place. He had a huge impact on us and I'll always be grateful for what he did here, both on-and-off the ice. That's good for Johnny and a great opportunity for some of these other players like Steve Santini.
Shero on replacing assistant coaches Geoff Ward and Ryane Clowe:
"We are certainly going to replace both. That's underway. It's not a rush. John [Hynes] is really detailed in this in terms of where he is, where [Alain] Nasreddine is, in terms of a job description and what he wants for the staff. I think it's great for more responsibility for Nas and he's grown into that and so has John. He's grown from three years ago to where he is now as a coach. His needs three years ago are different than what they are now. I think it'll be a good opportunity for a couple people who we eventually hire. It'll have the roles and responsibilities that John wants. We have good candidates and maybe in the next week or two [we'll have a decision], but we will definitely replace Ward and Clowe."
Shero on working with Senior Advisor Chuck Fletcher:
"He provides insight and can be a soundboard. Tom Fitzgerald is the same way. Everyone brings something different. I love working with people who are different than me, with different backgrounds and experiences. Being back with Chuck is a he asset for me and the organization. I'm really happy to have him with us."
Shero on moving forward in the offseason:
We're excited for this week and the start of training camp, as well as Switzerland and Sweden. We have lots of time to go before that and no promises either way but we're always looking to improve. We have room, so we'll keep at it and see how it goes. We're going to enjoy the week this week and watching these young players [at Development Camp].
For more soundbites from GM Ray Shero, watch his media scrum in its entirety.