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Devils Targeting Key Hurricanes Defenseman in Free Agency?

According to Elliotte Friedman, the Devils plan to pursue Hurricanes defenseman Brett Pesce in free agency.

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New Jersey Devils
Brett Pesce, Carolina Hurricanes. // Photo courtesy of Carolina Hockey Now

Now that the New Jersey Devils have their goaltender, General Manager Tom Fitzgerald is certainly going to want to address his blueline. There is reason to believe the Devils’ GM could do so by utilizing the 10th overall pick at the 2024 NHL draft via trade. However, the Devils have recently been linked to a Carolina Hurricanes defenseman who is headed to free agency.

On the latest 32 Thoughts the podcast, insider Elliotte Friedman stated he believes that the Devils are one of a few teams interested in Hurricanes defenseman Brett Pesce.

It certainly makes sense given that the Devils just dealt Kevin Bahl in the Jacob Markstrom trade. Plus, Fitzgerald is on the record stating he is in the process of trying to add to his defense group via The Jeff Marek Show last week.

“We’re trying to solidify our back end with more experience, get a little heavier. The things you’re talking about, the things that [Connor] Hellebuyck and the Winnipeg Jets speaks highly of, that’s the game.

“If the goalie can see the puck, he’s going to stop the puck a lot more.”

Pesce certainly makes a lot of sense for the Devils.

Although it’s not official just yet, it’s highly unlikely the 29-year-old defenseman returns to Carolina. It’s believed Hurricanes GM Eric Tulsky already has No.1 defenseman Jaccob Slavin locked into a new long-term contract, however, it cannot be revealed until July 1st. Therefore, Pesce has likely been priced out of returning to the Hurricanes.

Pesce is a well-rounded, two-way defenseman who is especially strong defensively. Pesce likes to keep the game simple, prioritizing keeping the puck in front of him. He’s unafraid to get physical, however, won’t put himself out of position as a low-risk defenseman. On the penalty kill, he’s a fine disruptor and willingly blocks shots. In his time with the Hurricanes, Pesce was often deployed in top matchup situations.

Following the Markstrom trade, the Devils are working with $16,048,603 in cap space with only Dawson Mercer due a significant raise.

AFP Analytics’ latest projection predicts Pesce to receive a five-year contract with a $6,283,200 cap hit.

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