How the New Jersey Devils are preparing for the playoffs
By Dan RosenblumThe Devils have no interest in trading for a defenseman.
They’re just looking to make a play for a top-four defenseman.
But it’s a different story on the blue line.
As the Devils prepare for the first round of the playoffs, the roster is loaded.
The club is set to receive top-six forward Jaccob Slavin, top-pair defenseman Jaccie Copp and top-two defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere.
The team is also set to get a top prospect in prospect Connor Carrick, who the organization drafted seventh overall in 2015.
Carrick, the son of former NHL player and current NHLer Adam, is the youngest of the group.
He’s also the first New Jersey native drafted in the NHL since 2006, when the team drafted defenseman Nick Bjugstad, who is the son and son-in-law of former Devils’ defenseman Mark and Lisa Bjugstedts.
Connor Carrick is the 18th player in Devils history to record 60 points in a season and the seventh in Devils’ franchise history.
The Devils drafted Carrick with the No. 4 overall pick in the 2016 NHL Draft, but he signed a free agent contract with the team this past season.
He spent time on the third line with Alexei Emelin and Jakub Voracek, and in the AHL with the Rochester Americans.
The 6-foot-2, 200-pound Carrick has scored seven goals and 11 points in 41 games this season.
The 21-year-old defenseman has a contract that pays him $1.25 million annually for two more seasons, and he has the ability to turn into a legitimate NHL defenseman if he can produce at a high level.
It’s unclear if Carrick will get a call-up to the NHL, but the Devils are making the best of a bad situation.
They are a young team and there are no guaranteed spots on the roster for any player, so Carrick would be eligible to sign a contract with them if he wants to be on a team that’s in contention for a playoff spot.
The roster also includes three players who are likely to be in the Devils lineup for the start of the postseason.
The first of those players is goalie Ilya Bryzgalov, who has been with the Devils for three seasons.
The Czech netminder has started every game in goal for the Devils this season and has a 3.19 goals against average and .907 save percentage.
Bryzgaliv is one of the best goaltenders in the league.
He has won two Vezina Trophy trophies and earned his second Olympic gold medal.
He led the Czech Republic to the gold medal at the 2016 Summer Olympics.
He had a 2.07 goals against in 2017-18, the highest goal-against average in team history.
Byrzgaliev is a good bet to start the playoffs and is an unrestricted free agent after the season.
But he’s still just 23 years old.
The Devils have to make sure that he gets the best deal possible to keep him in New Jersey.
The team is hoping to bring him to the Garden and play with him this spring.
The second of those three goalies is left wing Connor Carrol.
He is entering the final year of his contract with New Jersey and is coming off a season in which he had 11 goals and 12 assists for 18 points.
He missed the entire 2017-2018 season after undergoing surgery on a torn meniscus.
He also has a $1 million cap hit this season, and the Devils could be interested in signing him.
He has been one of New Jersey’s top goalies for a while, but it would be surprising if he didn’t get another look.
The third goalie is former defenseman and current Devils’ forward Jacob Josefson.
The 26-year old has had a strong year, but has only two goals and eight points in 18 games.
He signed a two-year deal with the club last summer.
It’s unclear how much longer he will be in New York.
Josefson is one year removed from his career-high 43 points in 2016-17.
He will turn 24 in June.
He made his NHL debut with the Islanders on Jan. 27, 2017.