You know that feeling you have after getting home after a long work week? The deep breathe you take as you remove your pants, exhale, and seep back into the couch cushions? That's basically where my level of concern is at when it comes to worrying about the New Jersey Devils. Obviously the job of a General Manager is never done so Ray Shero's belt is still very much buckled, but from a fan standpoint it feels good to be at ease with the future of the franchise. They could certainly use another upgrade on the blueline and an additional winger that could fill in effectively in the top half of the lineup would be welcomed, but at this point they are nothing more than complimentary pieces to a puzzle that is somehow already starting to resemble a formidable hockey team.
With the signing of Kyle Palmieri to a deal that pays him - all things considered - a fairly paltry $4.65 million a year for the 150 goals he's sure to provide over the next 5 years the Devils have locked up their top five scorers for the NHL equivalent of the foreseeable future. That's an invaluable position to be in considering they still have plenty of cap room at their disposal - even if they don't intend to use it until next summer.
Everyone knew when Ray Shero first walked through the doors of the Prudential Center that a much needed - and oft-procrastinated - rebuild was officially underway. One year later and he's already got a foundation built on the steadying forces of youth and speed. This is far from a finished product, but there aren't nearly as many questions as there were 12 months ago. That's thanks - in part - to a robbery of a trade that brought the Devils a consistent scorer who was finally given the opportunity to breakout. More importantly, it's thanks to a team friendly extension that should keep him playing in his hometown well beyond the time this team is ready to start contending. There's still a lot of construction to do, but I'll be damned if getting Kyle Palmieri his own hardhat doesn't shorten the process and push up the estimated date of completion.