New Jersey Devils

Reviewing New Jersey Devils general manager Ray Shero’s free agency procurments.

New Jersey Devils general manager Ray Shero was relatively quiet when all hell broke lose at the start of NHL free agency.

Although he purged the Edmonton Oilers of star winger Taylor Hall the week before, Shero was tranquil at the start of July, signing Ben Lovejoy and Vernon Fiddler, and re-signing Jon Merrill, Devante Smith-Pelly, and Beau Bennett — who they had acquired for a third-round pick at the draft.

With the exception of inking impending RFAs to contract extensions (namely, Kyle Palmieri), the Devs appear to be closed-to-finished this offseason.

“A month ago, we were trying to get the deeper team up front at forward and be a four-line team,” Shero said, via Chris Ryan of “And certainly by bringing back guys like Smith-Pelly and shortly hopefully Kyle Palmieri also, the trade of Bennett and then Fiddler, we’re getting to where we want to go.”

Which begs the question: have the Devs improved?

The short, sweat answer: yes. Despite gaping holes on defense and the wings, New Jersey can at least field enough skaters who can shoot the puck.

Only one problem: there’s nobody to get them the puck.

The team’s already suspect defense lost a significant skater in Adam Larsson, although Hall’s production should help a team that finished dead-last in shots and goals by a healthy margin.

Cory Schneider appears poised to challenge for the Vezina Trophy, and would be aided immensely if guys like Damon Severson and Jon Merrill take two steps forward.

“Today we’re a better team than we were at the end of the season,” Shero said. “And we’ve got a little ways to go till October and the drop of the puck.”

At the end of the day, the Devs have progressed in their rebuild to the point where they may be relevant again next season.

NEXT: Devils Snag Lovejoy, Fiddler In Free Agency

Justin Weiss is a staff editor at Elite Sports New York, where he covers the New York Islanders and Brooklyn Cyclones. In 2016, he received a Quill Award for Freelance Journalism. He has written for the Long Island Herald, FanSided and YardBarker.