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Potential (and Not So Good) Trade Targets for New Jersey

Tom Gulitti has what he calls "interesting developments" with respect to the 2009 NHL trade deadline that's coming up soon. If you're not aware of it, by all means, visit the SBN 2009 NHL Trade Deadline hub and find out what you need to know.

Now, yes, I am aware of the Flyers attempting to bring back Daniel Briere and Martin Brodeur starting tomorrow; but I'll save my thoughts on that for the preview tomorrow morning. Let's go to the Rumor Mill™ and talk trade targets for now.

I gave Illegal Curve my thoughts on what the Devils' top three needs are earlier this month. I still stand by them, and I'll list them below.

1. A legendary goaltender that can make the near-impossible saves for the stretch run and the playoffs Oh, hey, Martin Brodeur's already back. Need met!

2. An offensive defenseman, preferably one with an accurate shot. Devils could still use one of these players.

3. A stud defenseman. And let me clarify this one. I'm talking about a Pronger or a Bouwmeester. A top pairing guy who can play 23, 24 minutes; especially if Paul Martin gets hurt. Brendan Witt is not a stud defenseman.

In fact, Witt was the first player named by Gulitti as rumored to be heading to New Jersey. Witt is currently suspended and has this statline.

2008 - Brendan Witt 49 0 7 7 -31 75 0 0 0 0 37 0.0

In a word, no. I really hope the speculation of the Devils trading for Witt is just that - speculation.

Gulitti has also heard the name Nicklas Havelid of Atlanta being bandied about as a possible target. I like Gulitti's little dig at Ottawa's defense, as an aside.

2008 - Niclas Havelid 63 2 13 15 4 42 0 1 0 0 41 4.9

OK, he's better offensively than Witt (but then, so is Mike Mottau) and he's managing a plus rating on Atlanta, a team that gives up over three goals a game on average. Falconer at Bird Watchers Anonymous lists Havelid as a defenseman most likely to be traded. He does a great job explaining his game and how valuable he could be to a contending team.

On one hand, you can never have too many defensive defensemen who don't take dumb calls. On the other, it doesn't fill a need for New Jersey. Still, it's not a totally unreasonable or unattractive deal. (P.S. No to Oystrick; the Devils could just call up Anssi Salmela as a rookie offensive defensman).

The third name Gulitti mentions is Derek Morris. OK, he doesn't mention him as rumored New Jersey. According to Five for Howling, he's sitting out right now and gave the Coyotes a list of team he would waive his no-trade clause for. Yeah, I don't think he'll be playing in Phoenix much longer. I would have to think the current Atlantic Division leaders would be a very attractive team to waive his no-trade clause for. So let's pretend Morris is a target for the Devils and take a look.

2008 - Derek Morris 57 5 7 12 -13 24 0 1 0 0 89 5.6

My first reaction is: This is something? His career numbers show that he's only topped the 10 goal plateau once in his career, and that was way back in 2002-03. That was also the last season he cracked 30 points. Needless to say, I don't think he's much of an offensive defenseman, much less one the Devils could use.

That said, Odin Mercer pointed out how he was a top defender for the team last season and this year, his performance has suffered from rotating partners. And if you check out his game log this season, Morris has saw a ton of ice time. Not as consistent as Martin, but Morris has given 22+ minute performances multiple times for Phoenix. Perhaps he could be that depth minute-man should Martin fall? Then again, if he could be that guy, why would Phoenix want to move him? Finances? I don't like the idea, really.

Honestly, none of these three really "wow" me and I really hope the rumors aren't indicative of who the Devils are looking at. Havelid isn't awful, but I think if the Devils are serious about making a move, they could at least aim higher. A lot higher than Witt and Morris on the blueline. Especially when the top team in the East may be close to snagging Chris Pronger from Anaheim (and perhaps overpaying?). One of Scott Clemmensen and Kevin Weekes are available for trade, the Devils have some mid-range prospects that could be moved,and they have some pending UFAs in Brian Gionta (hmmm...) and John Madden.

Even then, given how well the team has gelled and performed, do they move players to get someone else right now anyway?