After last night's win, the New Jersey Devils are one point out of third place in the Metropolitan Division as well as one point out of the final wild card spot in the East. Therefore, the Devils are likely buyers at the trade deadline as they attempt to make a push for one of the last playoff spots in the East.
The Devils and the rest of the NHL are 34 days away from the trade deadline. However, with the Winter Olympics coming up, there will be a roster freeze from February 7th to the 23rd. The roster freeze doesn't stop NHL GM's from talking, they will have a good idea of their team's needs as well as who is going to be selling. So while the GM's may be discussing trades over the Olympic break, they will only have about 12 days to execute a trade after that.
Lou Lamoriello has his work cut out for him this year. It is obvious that the Devils have struggled all season to put pucks in the net. Let's look at the Devils as a team and look at where their weakness is:
- 30th in shots per game at 26.2/game
- 25th in goals per game at 2.36/game
- 5th in the league in goals against per game at 2.34/game
- 6th best power play in the league at 20.4%
- 2nd best penalty kill in the league at 86.9%
Now, I'm no mathematician, but looking at these numbers plus a little common sense tells you that the Devils offense is garbage. On the other hand, the Devils defensive game/goaltending is the cream of the crop of the league. Even the Devils' special teams are firing on all cylinders this season.
Let's go ahead and make two assumptions for the sake or argument. Let's say the Devils lose all four games before the break and are well out of the playoff picture. They will likely try and sell a few players to bolster their draft picks in the upcoming draft. The first player that has openly said he is open to trade: Martin Brodeur. Let's be realistic about this, he is old and deteriorating. For a team looking to make a playoff push, there are plenty of other options potentially available. Three goalies pop into my head: Ryan Miller, Jonas Hiller, and maybe even Tim Thomas are all better options for a team who is looking to solidify their goaltending. I highly doubt Marty dons another sweater other then the black and red.
On defense, the Devils have the potential to rent players such as Marek Zidlicky, Mark Fayne, and even Adam Larsson if the return is good enough. Marek Zidlicky has been a great power play contributor and is a well-respected veteran defenseman around the league. Mark Fayne is in the last year of his contract and could be acquired by a team looking for depth at defense. Adam Larsson I doubt will go anywhere, but some team really struggling to find a young, high potential defenseman could make move for Larsson.
In the other scenario, the Devils could propel themselves into either a wildcard spot or Metropolitan playoff spot before the break, making them a buyer at the deadline. As we discusses above, the Devils will be looking for a forward who can put shots on net and pucks in the goal. Which teams would be sitting there ready to trade to the Devils? The first team that pops into my head is the Buffalo Sabres and the first player is Matt Moulson. He was a perennial 30 goal scorer for the Islander and I believe he would help spark the Devils offense. Also, his contract ends this season and I could see him staying with the Devils since he lived in New York for so many years of his career. The next player I would love to see the Devils sign is Thomas Vanek. He has been a point per game player this year with the Islanders and could contribute to the Devils lack of offense. After that, the list is muddled with speculation. The rumor mill has names like Marian Gaborik, Alex Hemsky, and Michael Cammalleri as possible trade bait from failing teams.
Who do you see the Devils making a move for? Do you want the Devils to make a move at the deadline? The Devils are likely buyers this season and with additional help at offense, they have a chance to make a few upsets in the playoffs!