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Devils still have big need after signing Corey Crawford, trading for Ryan Murray | What’s next? Who’s left in free agent market?

Devils still have big need after signing Corey Crawford, trading for Ryan Murray | What’s next? Who’s left in free agent market?

Devils general manager Tom Fitzgerald vowed to tackle his first free agent market with patience, and that’s exactly what he did Friday after the market opened at noon in the East.

All day.

Almost all night.

With lots of cap space to spend and pressing needs to address, the rebuilding Devils made a big move about an hour before the clock struck 12 midnight by signing veteran goalie Corey Crawford to a two-year, $7.8-million pact.

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What an intriguing addition this was.

Crawford, 35, will go down in Blackhawks history as a franchise great because the Montreal native was in the net for two Stanley Cup wins during his 13 mostly good seasons with Chicago, and this move filled a Devils hole because Cory Schneider, their No. 2 goalie last season when he wasn’t demoted to the AHL, was bought out on Thursday.

Now Crawford will be asked to play a lesser role both as an often-used No. 2 and mentor to starter Mackenzie Blackwood, who was pretty good as a rookie last season.

The Crawford signing was announced 24 hours after the Devils took advantage of a division rival being up against the cap when they acquired defenseman Ryan Murray from the Columbus Blue Jackets for just a fifth-round pick. With Murray, the second pick of the 2012 draft, seemingly over chronic back problems and expected to be a first- or second-pair defenseman next season, he could be a steal for the Devils even though he has just one season remaining on his contract.

That deal also filled a need, which leaves one pressing one for Fitzgerald, who would love to bring in a goal-scorer to play left wing on

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NHL free agency 2020 – Grades, analysis for every big signing

NHL free agency 2020 – Grades, analysis for every big signing

NHL free agency for 2020 is underway!

For each key signing, Emily Kaplan, Chris Peters and Greg Wyshynski will be assessing the player’s fit with his new team, weighing whether the terms of the contract make sense and serving up an overall grade.

We’ll be grading the most notable offseason signings below, so come back for updates as deals are completed throughout the fall.

Free agency: Tracker | Preview | Top 60

Trades: Grading every big deal

Draft recap: Every pick | Grades | Takeaways

Terms: Seven years, $6.5 million average annual value

Where does he fit: Well, this was a shocker. At least to everyone not named Scottie Upshall, who predicted that Blues general manager Doug Armstrong would “do everything in his power to get Alex Pietrangelo back in the Blue Note this afternoon. But if not, expect a big play at the stud Torey Krug.”

The focus on the Blues was very much about unrestricted free agent Pietrangelo, and whether the St. Louis captain would end up re-signing with his team. Speculation was that the fate of Krug, another unrestricted free agent, hung in the balance until Pietrangelo made his decision.

Turns out everyone had it reversed.

The former Boston Bruins defenseman ended the Pietrangelo era in St. Louis on Friday with a seven-year, $6.5 million AAV contract. He joins Marco Scandella, Carl Gunnarsson and restricted free agent Vince Dunn on the left side of the Blues’ defense, although Justin Faulk can play both the right and left side, too.

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