After an impressive draft performance by the Devils, General Manager Ray Shero and the management team kicked off 2019 Free Agency by signing veteran winger Wayne Simmonds to a 1-year, $5 million contract. Here's what a few media outlets had to say about the Devils free agency moves and the addition of Simmonds.
Burnside Gives Devils Free Agency "A" Rating
Scott Burnside believes the Devils bringing in P.K. Subban, Jack Hughes, and Wayne Simmonds to the organization, while only losing Kenny Agostino in the process, is an excellent off-season that will drive the trajectory of the Devils winning culture back in the right direction. Each move New Jersey made seemed to be meticulously thought out; such as adding a former Norris Trophy winner in P.K Subban for three years. Burnside believes Subban will be motivated in a crowded market-place to help strengthen the team's profile and level of play from the point. Also, the Devils added their second first-overall pick in three years with the addition of Jack Hughes. The addition of these two young, talented centers will provide skill and efficiency down the middle of the ice for years to come.
Burnside also believes signing Simmonds to a short-term deal will provide the Devils with a rare combination of brawn and skill that will be beneficial to the Devils' top nine and will continue to fulfill the important veteran leadership role that is needed with the departure of Brian Boyle.
Wyshinski Believes The Simmonds Deal Makes Sense
ESPN.com's Greg Wyshinski says the Simmonds deal makes sense for one main reason: Simmonds has a lot to prove after a down year. On the ice, Simmonds needs to prove that he is the clear solution the Devils' need for a player who can do what he does on the power play. He is a superb net-front presence during man-advantage opportunities, which is something the Devils needed. That asset can now pair with the lethal shot from the point from Subban. Simmonds also brings a strong, physical game to New Jersey that can be a boost of energy for the club. Off the ice, Simmonds makes sense for the Devils to fill a leadership role that is needed for a team with young talent. Simmonds was recently awarded the 2019 Mark Messier Leadership Award, presented to the player who exemplifies great leadership qualities on and off the ice and who plays a leading role in his community growing the game of hockey. Simmonds provides a veteran presence that not only will help guide young players such as Hughes and Hischier, but also protect them. Simmonds isn't afraid to drop the gloves when needed.
Kennedy Thinks Simmonds Will Have An Immediate Presence
"Right off the hop, you've got a proven power-play specialist who excels at collecting pucks around the net and cashing them in. New Jersey's power play is already going to look very different next year thanks to the acquisition of defenseman P.K. Subban and his cannon point shot, but now the Devils have that net-front guy who can tip shots or corral rebounds." - Ryan Kennedy, The Hockey News
Simmonds is going into his 12th year and based off the tremendous physical toll Simmonds has endured over his NHL career, it is unsure how much time he has left in the League. However, if Simmonds is healthy again, which he seems to very much be, he will provide an immediate impact on and off the ice, and a one year contract is a risk the Devils can afford to make, both in price and term.
Mastracco Says Devils Passing on Big Name Free Agents Was Right Decision
Many people believed that with all the free cap space then Devils contained, Shero had the potential to go out and grab a blockbuster free agent. Although the Devils didn't acquire the biggest name free agents, they currently possess $20,770,000 in projected cap space after the addition of Simmonds, and although some of that money will go toward existing Devils contracts such as Will Butcher and Pavel Zacha, the Devils will have a lot of extra money to play with. Abbey Mastracco believes Shero and the Devils using that money to take on another contract from a team in a trade will be the more mature decision because of how difficult it is to sign free agents and build a team in free agency around the salary cap. Using free agency to get role players, such as Simmonds, then trading for bigger pieces using cap space as the most valuable asset will prove to be more effective in the long-run for the growth of an organization, rather than using free agency for short-term success by signing a player to a long-term deal who proves to be ineffective in the latter half of his contract.
"The Devils were plunged into this rebuild because of large contracts and cap mismanagement. It's the reason why the Los Angeles Kings fell off a cliff after they won their second Stanley Cup in 2014 and the reason the Pittsburgh Penguins were forced to trade Phil Kessel over the weekend." -Abbey Mastracco, NorthJersey.com
"Let the Rangers pay big bucks for bread [Panarin]. If all goes according to plan, the Devils will be paying Taylor Hall plenty of bread next season and beyond. You can build a winner without free agent mega-deals." -Abbey Mastracco, NorthJersey.com