5PM EST was the deadline for every NHL team to extend qualifying offers to their (restricted and unrestricted) free agents and the New Jersey Devils were no exception. They announced their QOs a while after 5PM but they had no surprises. They extended qualifying offers to forwards Joseph Blandisi, Blake Coleman, Stefan Noesen, Blake Pietila, Kevin Rooney, and Ben Thomson; defensemen Damon Severson and Vojtech Mozik; and goaltender Scott Wedgewood.
There are no surprises here. Their biggest concern was resigning Severson. I’m happy that Blandisi, Noesen, and Wedgewood both received qualifying offers as well.
Defenseman Mirco Mueller, acquired in a trade with the Sharks last weekend, did receive a qualifying offer from San Jose and the Devils don’t plan on changing that. He’ll likely be resigned; why trade picks for someone who’s not going to play with the organization? So I wouldn’t worry about him.
You might also be wondering: where is Beau Bennett? He didn’t receive a QO but I wouldn’t worry about him too much either. I don’t think GM Ray Shero is going to just let him walk; they’re likely just negotiating a new contract. I want him to stick around (his social media presence would be missed terribly).
Goaltender Keith Kinkaid, an unrestricted free agent, didn’t receive one either, and neither did UFA Jacob Josefson. Kinkaid will likely test the waters of free agency. As much as I would love for him to stay in New Jersey, he’s only going to be a backup goalie here. If he wants to be a starter, he’ll have to look for a job elsewhere but there aren’t many teams in the market for a starting goaltender.
I had a feeling that the Devils would let Josefson walk as soon as his one-year contract expired; there are too many young, fast centers in the system now that are all competing for a limited number of spots. If he finds a home elsewhere, good. I hope he does well.
I’m surprised that the Devils made a qualifying offer to Mozik, mainly because he recently signed a contract to play in the KHL with Vityaz Podolsk, which is good for him. The Devils’ AHL affiliate is certainly lacking defensemen so this hurts a bit but who knows? They have defensive prospects in the system who could potentially make the jump.
I’m excited to see what kind of contract Severson gets because he’s been one of the most consistent blue liners on the team and I hope the contract is long-term. Blandisi and Noesen are both young, talented forwards who both have a lot to prove next season but could make a huge difference for the team provided that they stay up with New Jersey. Wedgewood, also, has a lot to prove. He missed most of last season in Albany (AHL) with an injury and returned for two games during the playoffs. He has to bounce back and if Kinkaid does leave and go elsewhere, Wedgewood becomes the backup.
Free agency (frenzy) officially begins this Saturday, July 1!