It’s About Time the NHL Gave Tom Fitzgerald His Flowers

Carter Stenberg Avatar

Written by: HaulaHaulaGetDolla

I said it. You all know it. The cat is officially out of the bag now. New Jersey’s best kept secret is out in the open: Tom Fitzgerald will be your 2023 Jim Gregory GM of The Year and it’s only November. Fitzy has assembled a 2023-2024 team that looks poised to take over the league for years to come; he runs the NHL like he fired up a new franchise mode in Chel and set the AI to easy. Be it in the draft, free agency, or trades, the Devil’s GM has put on a master class of the job that should make Brad Treliving blush. If this is the first you’re hearing it, I’m sorry to break it to you. This is a damn good Devils team, and because of Fitzy, it’s gonna be damn good for a long time.

Lindy Ruff took all the hype and attention last year for the record-breaking 2023 NJD season – deservedly so! This young Devils team still felt like it had one big Johnny Gaudreau shaped hole going into the 2022-2023 season before being a legitimate contender. Then a 13-game win streak happened, Jack Hughes put up 99 points, the boys won 52 games in a 112 point season, and suddenly The Rock became the talk of the hockey town again. Lindy deserved all the praise he got for drowning out the “Fire Lindy” chants at the start of the season, and was properly rewarded as a finalist for the Jack Adams. 

But today is a new day and a new season, and the Devils don’t enter it on the tail end of a rebuild, but as cup favourites. 

There is only one thing that brings a Devils fan as much joy as seeing their boys play – and that’s viewing the team’s CapFriendly page.


As the league’s salary cap will continue to grow in a post-pandemic world, this already insane deal for Jack Hughes will only get more ridiculous as the years go on. He is not alone either – Hischier and Meier both are on some ludicrously team-friendly contracts that give Fitzy the cap flexibility moving forward to continue adding value pieces around the elite core. Just look at what Tyler Toffoli has contributed on his $4.25 million hit already this season.

To anyone outside of NJ, they might be surprised to hear that Jonas Siegenthaler is on the cusp of being an elite level Defensive Defenseman – and we get it all at the price of $3.4 AAV for the next 3 seasons. Not to mention Fitzy got him from the Caps for a 3rd rounder.

Many outside the Devils fanbase are probably wondering, how did this all happen?

When Tom Fitzgerald took over as interim GM of the New Jersey Devils in January 2020, the forever rebuild was still in full swing. The lingering effects of the Kovalchuk fiasco and a disastrous tenure with Ray Shero had the team looking dire for years. MVP Taylor Hall was traded not even a month prior. The Nikita Gusev deal was about to blow up in our face. PK Subban’s will too. Kyle Palmieri, the team’s leading scorer, will be traded along with Devils legend Travis Zajac in February… PAVEL ZACHA WILL END 2021 AS THE TEAMS TOP SCORER.

All this is mired by a pandemic that ended the 2019-2020 season less than 2 months into Fitzy’s tenure and would go on to shorten the 2020-2021 season also. This was immeasurably valuable experience for the team’s exciting young prospect core of Hischier, Hughes, and Bratt – prime NHL minutes in their late teens and early twenties that they will never get back.

But then the training weights came off.

Tom Fitzgerald went into the 2021 offseason a man on a mission no longer content with rebuilding. It started with an all-time draft moment when Fitzy drafted Luke Hughes, younger brother of the team’s franchise superstar Jack Hughes. Just look at this moment:

It’s easy from here to see why Jack signed such a team friendly 8 year / $64 million deal just a few months later.

Beyond that, Fitzy hasn’t really missed in the draft. It’s still too early to tell for most of these guys, but Nemec looks prepped to be a star once he makes that leap.

The prized free agent of that 2021 offseason – Dougie Hamilton – shocked the hockey world and signed with the 19-30-7 Devils team that still looked years away from contention. It took $9 million AAV to convince him, but Dougie is now the Norris Conversation / defensive anchor for this Devils squad for years to come.

Now obviously many detractors to Fitzy here may cite the afore alluded to loss of Johnny Gaudreau to the Columbus Blue Jackets at the 11th hour. While at the time this hurt, Tom kept his cool and kept adding pieces to surround his young core. The Palat, Bastian, and Tatar deals all added huge value on low risk signings to make last season’s surprise turnaround a raging success.

And then we get to the Fitz Magic – the trades, oh boy the trades. Just look at the Devils trade history over the past 2 seasons! There’s more fleece than a North Face Outlet Store. Lazar for a 4th? Siegenthaler for a 3rd? “The Real Johnny Hockey” Marino for AHL bound Ty Smith? Those under the radar deals ignore the obvious and incredible Timo Meier deal (which also conveniently corrected the only questionable Fitzgerald draft choice of Shakir Mukhamadullin). 

When all is said and done this 2023-2024 season, the Tyler Toffoli deal is the one that will finally get Fitzy the national recognition he deserves. The Devils GM recognized the opportunity and immediately acted. Toffoli wanted out, and as much as I love Sharangovich, he is no where near the player Toffoli is. Toffoli has been elite and continues to be elite going into 2023-2024.

All of these deals paint a picture of a GM that is aggressive in making his team better, and somehow giving up relatively little value in order to get it done. We will see what happens through the years as the trade trees develop, but for right now, the Devils are elite and the league looks on in envy as Tom Fitzgerald plans to keep it that way for a long, long time.

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