Earlier today, the New Jersey Devils made their first move on trade deadline day. They sent Marek Zidlicky to the Detroit Red Wings for a conditional third rounder in 2016. I first saw it from Ken Campbell of The Hockey News on Twitter; Tom Gulitti confirmed it in this post at Fire & Ice. The full conditions of the pick are as follows:
As of right now, the Devils get Detroit's third-round pick in 2016.
If Detroit reaches the Eastern Conference Finals this year, then the Devils also get Detroit's fifth rounder in 2015.
If Detroit reaches the 2015 Stanley Cup Finals, then they don't get the fifth rounder in 2015 but the third rounder is upgraded to Detroit's second round pick in 2016.
All this and Pierre LeBrun reported that the Devils retained $1 million of Marek Zidlicky's salary.
My initial reaction was that this is a very underwhelming trade. It still is in my opinion. This is the sort of deal where the best one could say about it is that the Devils got something instead of nothing. Which is true, in the same sense that finding a penny on the ground is better than not finding one at all. It's still only a penny. If all you wanted was Zidlicky gone, then you certainly got that. For those who wanted the Devils to try to get some value out of their veterans, not so much.
I wasn't expecting anything like a first round draft pick. Yet, a third rounder in next year's draft is a very small cost for Detroit and the conditions for improvement are fairly steep. As Travis Yost wrote recently at TSN, a third rounder doesn't often lead to NHL talent and Detroit's third rounder is likely going to be closer to pick #90 than pick #61. I suppose Devils fans now have a team to cheer for in the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs. The retained salary is likely a drop in the massive bucket for the Devils' billionaire owners, but I would have liked to have seen the Devils demand something a little better if real money was also going to be paid by New Jersey. Like a second rounder in next year's draft instead. Or a reverse of what Jagr brought to New Jersey. This conditional third plus retained salary makes this akin to a warm can of soda. It's a drink but not all that desirable.
Perhaps I'm just still trying to accept that Zidlicky wasn't worth much to begin with. I can appreciate the Devils wanting to move Zidlicky. While the defense is now missing someone who can move the puck and help out (sometimes) on offense, Zidlicky is old, prone to taking penalties, and not active enough in his own end to be part of the team's future. It's those factors, plus his status as a pending unrestricted free agent with a no-trade clause, that explain why his value was low. That said, he was a prolific puck-mover on the blueline. He was able to lead breakouts, run a point, and do some different things on offense. What he brought to the table in New Jersey is not easily replaced by whoever is left on the Devils' defense.
Interestingly enough, Matt Schultz of Winging it in Motown asked me about Zidlicky earlier this year. My response is included in this post. He was right in thinking the Red Wings would be interested. I'll repeat my general point: Zidlicky can be quite effective in a more limited role to maximize his offensive value while minimizing everything else. While the Devils protected his ice time to a degree, he played a lot in New Jersey. I think they came out ahead on this rental unless that third rounder is great. As for the Devils, this will mean more ice time for younger defenders regardless of whether they can handle it. For this season, that may be fine. For the future, we'll see.
Apologies for the technical difficulties beyond my control in getting this post up. I want to know what your take is on this deal, especially now that there has been some time to digest it. Do you like this deal? Do you think the Devils should have demanded more from Detroit? Can Zidlicky help the Red Wings? Are you now going to support Detroit in this coming postseason? Please leave your answers and other thoughts about this trade in the comments. Thank you for reading.