Seemingly out of nowhere, the New Jersey Devils made a deal this afternoon to acquire another NHL player for the cost of a low conditional draft pick. As confirmed by Tom Gulitti at Fire & Ice, the New Jersey Devils got forward Matt D`Agostini and a conditional seventh round pick in 2015 from the St. Louis Blues for a conditional pick in 2015. The condition is dependent on whether the Devils qualify or re-sign the player. If they do, the Blues keep their seventh rounder and the Devils' pick is a fourth rounder in 2015. If they do not, then the Devils get St. Louis' seventh round pick in 2015 and the pick given to St. Louis is a fifth rounder in 2015. In short, the Devils gave very little to pick up a player.
According to his profile at NHL.com, Matt D'Agostini is a 26-year old right winger who stands at 6'0", weighs at 198 pounds, and has a right-handed shot. He's played 254 games in the NHL, took 453 shots, and has 45 goals and 46 assists. His best season came in 2010-11 when he played in all 82 games, shot at 12.9%, and earned 21 goals and 20 assists. He hasn't come close to hitting those marks and he's currently at one goal and one assist in 16 games with only 19 shots on net. Needless to say, he's not much of a scorer. At least his low shooting percentage can fit in with most of the Devils' roster.
D'Agostini has been having a tough year in St. Louis after two good seasons. In 2010-11 and 2011-12, D'Agostini averaged over 14 minutes per game, including over a minute-and-half average on the power play. According to Behind the Net, D'Agostini faced a good level of competition at even strength and had a solid on-ice Corsi rate on the team in 2010-11 and an even better on-ice Corsi rate (and weaker competition) in 2011-12. The production dropped in 2011-12 but at least he was a positive factor at evens. Yet, 2013 has gone all kinds of awry for D'Agostini. In this season, his power play average ice time has dropped to under a minute and his total average ice time fell to 11:53 per game. His on-ice Corsi rating against slightly better competition than last season fell to zero so far in 2013. He wasn't really doing much for the Blues and the Blues figured they didn't really need him.
As I learned from hildymac's post about the deal at St. Louis Game Time, T.J. Oshie is coming back from injury. So, St. Louis got a conditional pick to open up a roster spot. What do the Devils get? A player with a point to prove, hopefully. Positionally, he strengthens the team's depth at wing as he's a right-handed right winger. Maybe that's reason enough for the deal. D'Agostini skates fairly well and could be another option for the power play. Even this season, he got some time with their special teams; it wouldn't be the worst idea to give him a few shifts here in New Jersey. According to Hockey Analysis, his Fenwick percentage is just under 50%; it could stand to improve and that could help. From those same stats, note his even strength shooting percentage. It's pretty low at 5.56%, although he hasn't been shooting a lot. Should he get the chance to shoot more, it might bloom, which would directly benefit the Devils. Then again, I could (and have!) said this about many Devils this season.
I will say that I'm a little surprised by the timing of this deal. The right wing depth chart currently runs: Ilya Kovalchuk, David Clarkson, Steve Bernier and Tom Kostopoulos. In addition, Dainius Zubrus is a couple of weeks away from returning according to Lou's comments in this Friday post by Gulitti. Someone's getting shifted (or moved?) soon unless D'Agostini can play on the left side. We'll see if there's another shoe to drop at some point. Regardless, based on his usage in St. Louis, it appears to me that the the Devils picked up another bottom six winger, one who could stand to get a fresh start with a new organization. The conditional pick given up isn't worth much at all. If it doesn't work out, then the Devils don't have to keep him this summer. If it does, then the Devils are stronger at forward; although, I don't think he's going to be much of a scorer. There's not much evidence to think that D'Agostini will be a success like Andrei Loktionov. He may be a positive possession player and he's averaged close to two shots per game before; but he's only shot above 10% once in his NHL career, which is now over 250 games. It's not like he's going to develop. That's not a bad thing, mind you. Given how he could be used, he just has to chip in points and not hurt the team. He's not going to be - nor should he be seen as - A Difference Maker. Still, I like this kind of low-risk trade in general and I think Lou pulled off another one. So I like this move.
What's your take on the trade? Did you think the Devils were wise to pick up D'Agostini? What do you expect the right winger to do for the Devils? Will he do it? Please leave your answers and other comments about this trade in the comments. Thank you for reading.