After all of the speculation and rumors, another season’s NHL Trade Deadline is now over. The deadline day itself was rather quiet in that the biggest name, Kevin Shattenkirk, was dealt before the deadline. Ben Bishop and Martin Hanzal garnered big deals - and were also moved before today. Others like Matt Duchene and Radim Vrbata stayed with their respective teams. So it wasn’t a massive day of deals. The New Jersey Devils were one of the more active teams; but, it was a disappointing set of returns for the deals.
Well before the NHL Trade Deadline today, general manager Ray Shero made two moves consistent with being sellers on the trade market. The Devils sent Vernon Fiddler to Nashville for a fourth round pick and they traded Sergey Kalinin to Toronto for minor league defenseman Viktor Loov. Neither of those were great returns. However, keep in mind that the New Jersey Devils have shown to the world to be a bad hockey team this season. No one is going to offer a lot for fourth-line players. Still, the hope would be that there would be interest in Kyle Quincey and P.A. Parentreau among others on the roster. To that end, there was indeed interest and Shero traded both players. However, the deals Shero made ended up being rather disappointing.
Trade #1: Kyle Quincey to Columbus for Dalton Prout
The team’s first deal saw Quincey going to Columbus in exchange for defenseman Dalton Prout. Prout is a right-handed defenseman and he has been a mainstay of Columbus’ blueline for most of the last five seasons. This season has been an exception, where he’s been pushed out of the lineup and has only played in 15 games and with a minimal amount of minutes. Prout can be physical and he’s willing to fight, but the Devils already had that in Seth Helgeson if they really wanted a defenseman to do that for some reason. Prout adds little, if any, offense and his defensive work hasn’t been all that impressive. So it’s not as if the Devils acquired a player who can step in and play a good amount of minutes right away. He’s a bottom-pairing defender at best.
He’s signed for next season and while he meets the game requirements for defensemen to be exposed (at least one who’s signed beyond 2016-17 and played in either 70 games in the last two seasons or 40 in this season), the Devils have had four other defensemen who met that requirement already. Even if Prout is exposed, if he’s not taken, then he’s still on the roster. While Quincey had his own issues, at least he was providing something to the proverbial table. I doubt Prout can match what Quincey did. I don’t see how this deal helps the Devils in the short term or in the long run short of Prout having an amazing comeback season at age 27. I wasn’t happy with the deal when the news came out and I wished a draft pick was on offer instead. I still feel that way.
Trade #2: P.A. Parenteau to Nashville for 2017 Sixth Round Draft Pick
The Devils effectively had “found money” in P.A. Parenteau. They picked him up off waivers. Parenteau provided a decent amount of production at a position the Devils were (and are) thin at. While he wasn’t a standout like Lee Stempniak was last season, it was reasonable to think the Devils could turn cost-nothing player into an asset. While it probably didn’t help that his finger got hurt (not broken) last Saturday, the Devils acquired a sixth round pick for this year for Parenteau. From the same team that gave the Devils a fourth round pick for a 38-year old career fourth line center. One would think with the advances in analytics on teams and even just looking at his basic scoring numbers, he could command more than a sixth rounder. I don’t know why Parenteau’s reputation is so poor.
I know that some great players were picked in the sixth round in past drafts. But those were diamonds amid a whole lot of coal. For every Pavel Datsyuk, there are hundreds of players that maybe make it to pro hockey but don’t sniff the NHL. A sixth round pick is an asset but it’s very small one. Now the Devils have a hole in their lineup at right wing for effectively dumping Parenteau. If this was the best Shero could do, I would almost rather he kept Parenteau.
Trade #3: Reece Scarlett to Florida for Shane Harper
This was an AHL deal. Defenseman Reece Scarlett, who was picked in the sixth round in 2011, was traded to Florida for right winger Shane Harper. Harper, who was never drafted, kicked around the minor leagues for a while and made his NHL debut with the Panthers this season. Scarlett was buried in the depth chart among defensemen in the organization. So Shero turned someone who wasn’t going to get a sniff at the NHL with the Devils as it stands into someone who at least made it to the best league in the world for a bit. Harper will start in Albany and that’s a plus for the A-Devs. He’s been a scoring winger in the AHL and Albany has seen plenty of players moved up to New Jersey over the past month or so. Harper should strengthen their roster. We might even see him with New Jersey soon since Harper is a right winger and the team is thin at that position. The move may be more beneficial for Albany. Even so, this was the best of the three trades Shero made today.
As confirmed by Pete Dougherty at the Albany Times-Union, the Devils made four paper moves and sent someone down today. The paper moves involved Miles Wood, Joseph Blandisi, Steve Santini, and Blake Coleman. This means they were sent down to Albany and called right back up. They are eligible to play for Albany in their postseason. The one player that was sent down was defenseman Seth Helgeson. Helgeson was put on waivers in this past weekend and he cleared. With the acquisition of Prout, someone had to go down and Helgeson was the one. So he’s back with the A-Devils and Prout will at least start as New Jersey’s seventh defenseman.
Let’s take a step back to last year’s NHL Trade Deadline. It was a good one for general manager Ray Shero and the New Jersey Devils. He turned Lee Stempniak into second rounder for 2017 and a fourth rounder for 2016, Eric Gelinas into a 2016 third round pick, and Stefan Matteau into Devante Smith-Pelly. He turned assets that weren’t in his plans for the future into a NHL player who could be in DSP and three additional picks. The Devils made themselves potentially better in the short term and in the long term, depending on those selections. That’s why it was easy to say that Shero did well last year.
Compare that to the summation of today’s moves. While he turned an AHL-set Scarlett into Harper, who may be back in the NHL; he obtained a worse defenseman for Quincey and a complete long shot of a draft pick for Parenteau. That’s just not a lot - even if Harper somehow becomes a NHL player on this team. I understand that there may not have been a lot offered for either. The Devils are a bad team - not a mediocre team; 16 out of 30 teams make the playoffs in this league, being mediocre means you’re a playoff team or close to being one - and who is going to give a lot for players from a bad team? All the same, from what Shero got today, the Devils are not better in the short term. They are not better suited in the long term from these trades. They aren’t any better suited for the expansion draft; the Devils have had multiple defensemen they could expose already. While a GM can only make the deals that are offered, if these were the best offers Shero was receiving, then perhaps he should have kept those players. These three moves, as a whole, look more like moves made for the sake of making moves. These three moves should challenge the notion of “The team has to trade X and get something before he goes away for free.” With the return of a sixth round draft pick and Dalton Prout for two regular NHL players combined with a minor league swap, the Devils got as little as they could. Therefore, I have to conclude that Shero made his worst deals yet as GM of the Devils. This year’s deadline was a disappointment.
One last aside. The Devils do have 11 picks for the 2017 NHL Draft. No, it’s not considered to be as deep as the 2016 NHL Draft. But there are good prospects in every draft and it’s the scouts’ and management’s goal to identify those good prospects. Whether or not it’s as deep is missing the point. Unfortunately, the one pick they picked up today for that draft is just quantity; sixth rounders in any year’s draft carry very little value to begin with. So the Devils did not help themselves in that regard today either.
Now that the Trade Deadline is over, what do you think of what Shero accomplished today? Are you happier about these deals than I am? Would it have been better for Shero to do nothing than what he did do today? What would you have wanted to see - within reason, no “Merrill and a third for Duchene” stuff - instead? Please leave your answers and other reactions to what the Devils did today at the Trade Deadline in the comments. Thanks to everyone who commented in the open post all day long and thank you for reading.