The NHL Trade Deadline is approaching quickly (less than two weeks away at time of writing) and our New Jersey Devils have to decide: do they buy, sell or stand pat? Now most teams at the deadline don’t really stand pat; there’s usually at least a minor move or two, even if it’s just a depth player being sold off for a 7th rounder or vice versa.
Jersey’s Team finds itself in a tough position at the moment; while only sitting 5 points out of the last playoff spot, there are teams around them with games in hand, teams around them playing more consistent hockey, and a couple of teams that have both of those advantages. With that in mind and knowing that the team as it is right now is not built to compete for The Cup, I think Ray Shero needs to continue attempting to make savvy moves to improve the team in the long run.
Last Year’s Deadline
The Devils made three trades at last year’s deadline, and only one was a player for player deal; even so, it was fairly minor as the Montreal Canadiens sent Devante Smith-Pelly our way in exchange for Stefan Matteau. While DSP had a hot start in Jersey, he has cooled off astronomically this year to the point where he is starting to look like he will become a permanent fixture in the press box as a healthy scratch. That being said, he’s still better than Matteau.
Both other trades saw Shero ship off a player for one or more draft picks; Eric Gelinas was sent to the Colorado Avalanche for a 2017 3rd (still waiting on that can of Coke) and Lee Stempniak (who initially came in on a PTO) to the Boston Bruins for a 2017 2nd and 2016 4th. This pair of deals wound up moving on from two players who were not in the Devils’ long term plans in favor of more assets to improve the team further down the road.
The main thing I like that Shero is doing is that he has maintained salary cap flexibility while still acquiring assets, such as he did during the Marc Savard(‘s contract) deal. Hopefully, he finds a deal or two that can also aid the team similarly either at this year’s deadline or again at the Entry Draft.
This Year’s Deadline
I think at the deadline this year, Shero looks to stock up on more draft picks (with the Devils already holding 9-10 picks for the 2017 Entry Draft) in hopes of either acquiring a player after the Expansion Draft, or improving draft position in the Entry Draft.
Speaking of the Expansion Draft, I know there are a lot of fans who would love to see Michael Cammalleri sent packing after waiving his No Trade Clause; while I have advocated for it in the past, I think at this point the plan is simply to leave him unprotected and see what Las Vegas does. With how scatterbrained his decision making this season has been, his 1 goal in his last 32 games (0 in the last 17), and his age not fitting in with a rebuild, I see Shero using Cam and DSP to meet the exposed forwards requirements.
I could see New Jersey parting with some pieces that are unsigned beyond this season, mainly Kyle Quincey and P.A. Parenteau, as both players could be useful to a playoff contender, even if it is just to give them some additional depth in the post season. There might even be a surprise move or two on the back end, as I don’t see anyone other than Greene, Severson, Santini and more recently Merrill as being worth anything to the team moving forward. With Santini being expansion exempt, the other 3 names should be our protected pieces. If management is doing their due diligence, they should realize at this point that Ben Lovejoy is both not very good and not in the team’s plans beyond this contract...at least, he shouldn’t be. If Shero thinks he can get anything of value for Lovejoy or Moore, then I say trade one and use the other to meet the defense exposure requirement; I wouldn’t blink an eye at both being gone.
I don’t see the Devils being buyers simply because of how much fluctuation there will be in the league after the playoffs. Once the dust from the Expansion Draft settles, and Shero can see which teams are still cap strapped, then I think we might see the Devils make some bigger moves to try and improve the roster before heading into the Entry Draft.
Now I’d like to hear your thoughts on the Devils at the deadline; do you think the team sells like I predict they will? Do you think they will be buyers? Depending on what you think they will do, who do you think they buy/sell? Will the moves impact the team’s direction for next season? Leave any and all comments below and thank you as always for reading!