Sheldon Keefe

Sheldon Keefe was hired as coach of the New Jersey Devils on Thursday.

The 43-year-old, who replaces Travis Green, had been fired by the Toronto Maple Leafs on May 9 after going 212-97-40 in five seasons, and 16-21 in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

"This is an exciting time, and I'm honored to be a member of the Devils organization," Keefe said. "To have the chance to lead this young, dynamic team and to see the potential that can still be unlocked is all very attractive for me."

Keefe, who replaced Mike Babcock on Nov. 20, 2019, guided Toronto to the playoffs in each of his five seasons. The Maple Leafs went 46-26-10 this season to finish third in the Atlantic Division but lost to the Boston Bruins in seven games in the Eastern Conference First Round.

Toronto has advanced beyond the opening round of the playoffs once (2023) since 2004.

Prior to joining the Maple Leafs, Keefe coached their American Hockey League affiliate, the Toronto Marlies, for five seasons, and guided them to their first Calder Cup championship in 2018.

The Devils (38-39-5) were 8-12-1 under Green after he replaced Lindy Ruff on March 4, and finished seventh in the Metropolitan Division after ending last season with the most wins (52) and points (112) in New Jersey/Colorado Rockies/Kansas City Scouts history. They failed to make the playoffs for the 10th time in 12 seasons.

"This was an invigorating process for me, having met with many qualified candidates and hearing how attractive this position was to them," Devils general manager Tom Fitzgerald said. "Sheldon jumped to the top of my list when he became available, and I was thrilled when he agreed to be a part of what we are building here. He is an excellent communicator, believes in collaboration, and will take what he has learned previously to make this team a Stanley Cup contender.

"The organization is incredibly excited to welcome Sheldon, his wife, Jackie, and his two boys, Landon and Wyatt, to New Jersey."

NHL Tonight on the Devils hiring Sheldon Keefe

Five Devils scored at least 20 goals this season: Timo Meier (28), Jack Hughes (27), Jesper Bratt (27), Nico Hischier (27) and Dawson Mercer (20). There also was improvement in rookie defensemen Luke Hughes and Simon Nemec.

"I'm thrilled to welcome Sheldon and his family to New Jersey," Devils managing partner David Blitzer said. "Finding the right coach to lead this team was our top priority, and Sheldon impressed us during every step of the interview process. He shares in our goal to unlock the full potential of this roster and deliver a fourth Stanley Cup to our fans. Sheldon and Tom will be tremendous partners because they believe in the hard work and resiliency it takes to build a consistent contender. I'm excited for the future of New Jersey Devils hockey."

Defenseman Brendan Smith, forwards Tomas Nosek and Chris Tierney, and goalie Kaapo Kahkonen each can become an unrestricted free agent July 1. Fitzgerald said during his end-of-season press conference that it's his intention to tender a qualifying offer to each of New Jersey's four pending restricted free agents: Mercer, forward Nolan Foote and goalies Nico Daws and Akira Schmid.

Jake Allen is the only one of the five goalies to play for the Devils this season who is under contract for 2024-25. New Jersey finished 26th in the NHL in goals allowed per game (3.43).

"After meeting with David, (co-managing partner) Josh Harris, Tom, and other members of the organization and in talking with my family, this was an opportunity that I couldn't turn down," Keefe said. "I know this organization has a great history of winning and I look forward to getting started to work on leading them back to that level."

Two teams are without a coach: the San Jose Sharks and Seattle Kraken. The Buffalo Sabres hired Ruff on April 22; Green was hired by the Ottawa Senators on May 7; the Maple Leafs named Craig Berube coach May 17 and the Winnipeg Jets named Scott Arniel coach on May 24. senior draft writer Mike G. Morreale contributed to this report