Devils don't qualify Michael McLeod, Jesper Boqvist, Nathan Bastian

The New Jersey Devils declined to give qualifying offers to three key role players who contributed to their successful return to the playoffs last season, making them unrestricted free agents.

Center Michael McLeod, forward Jesper Boqvist and winger Nathan Bastian, all restricted free agents, did not receive qualifying offers ahead of Saturday's start of unrestricted free agency.

McLeod, 25, had 26 points in 80 games for the Devils last season as their primary checking center. He had six points in 12 playoff games.

Boqvist, 24, had 21 points in 70 regular-season games. Bastian, 25, had 15 points in 43 games but was one of the team's most physical forwards.

An NHL source told ESPN that the surprising decision to let all three hit unrestricted free agency centers around the strengths of their respective arbitration cases. While they're now free to sign elsewhere, the expectation is that the Devils will work to bring them back -- in particular McLeod and Bastian.

The Devils did qualify 23-year-old defenseman Kevin Bahl.