With the NHL's annual free-agent period opening this year on July 13, Jack Campbell appears no closer to re-signing with the Toronto Maple Leafs. There's speculation the New Jersey Devils could be among the 30-year-old goaltender's suitors if he tests the open market.
The New York Post's Larry Brooks reports a source telling him the Devils could attempt to acquire Campbell's rights before July 13, giving them a head start on signing him. “The idea would be to move Mackenzie Blackwood,” writes Brooks, pointing out the 25-year-old netminder's career has stalled over the past seasons in New Jersey.
Injuries and inconsistency have hampered Blackwood. With Jonathan Bernier's career in jeopardy following a hip injury, the Devils need an upgrade between the pipes to take the next step toward playoff contention.
Cap Friendly shows Campbell coming off a two-year contract with an annual average value of $1.65 million. He'll be seeking a significant raise on a long-term deal, perhaps as much as $5 million annually on a five-year deal. According to the Toronto Sun's Terry Koshan, Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas lacks the cap room to match what Campbell could receive on the open market.
With $25.3 million in cap space and 15 players under contract for 2022-23, the Devils have sufficient room to add Campbell. It shouldn't conflict with their efforts to sign restricted free agents Jesper Bratt, Pavel Zacha, Miles Wood and Jesper Boqvist. Moving out Blackwood would free up an additional $2.8 million.
Devils GM Tom Fitzgerald made a big splash in last year's free-agent market by signing Dougie Hamilton. We shouldn't dismiss the possibility that he'll pursue a notable free-agent goalie such as Campbell this summer.