The NHL trade deadline falls much earlier than usual this season; while we usually see it in March, this season it comes Monday, February 24th. With the New Jersey Devils firmly in the cellar of the Eastern Conference, they will be selling off pieces deemed “non-essential” to the franchise’s future yet again. The interesting component here is that right now, both the GM and Head Coach positions are filled by interim personnel, meaning the possibility of less moves than usual and more moves than usual both exist. With that being said, here’s my choices for who I think could be on the move by the 24th:
Sami Vatanen for 2nd (Maybe Conditional) Round Draft Pick + Prospect
This idea has been making its rounds, maybe not so much on the return, but at least on the idea of Vatanen departing, particularly if the team is not offering him a new contract. Vatanen could be an extremely valuable rental this deadline, especially if other teams are not willing to part with defenders. Right-handed, puck moving defenders always seem to be at a premium anyway, and with certain injuries (Dougie Hamilton of Carolina immediately comes to mind) the price could be increased by a bidding war.
For that last reason alone, I could see Vats fetching at least the suggested return, if not more. Depending on number of teams interested, number of players available, and if other injuries happen in the next week, we could see a higher return come in, with possibilities of a condition (2nd becomes a 1st if X number of playoff rounds are won or Vats re-signs for instance), an outright first, or a higher ranking prospect.
Wayne Simmonds for a 3rd or 4th Round Draft Pick
Another player that has been featured in rumors is Simmonds, as his deal signed with the team prior to the season was for one year. While I doubt Simmonds has reestablished the value of himself that he was hoping he would, there’s always a spot for playoff-tested, tough player with leadership qualities. If he had put up higher point totals, I’d be more optimistic for a higher pick. As he only has 21 points in 55 contests, the team is probably looking at a mid-round pick.
Andy Greene for a 3rd or 4th Round Draft Pick
Maybe a bit less likely due to his no trade clause, but in what could be his final NHL season, Andy Greene might want to chase the Stanley Cup one last time. To do that, he would obviously have to waive his NTC, but this also allows him to control his destiny a bit, as he would only have to waive for a team he would like to go to. I think that fact hurts his value a bit, but considering that he plays a more valuable position than Simmonds, it balances out and helps to keep his value in the same range as Wayne’s.
Bold Trade Prediction: Kyle Palmieri for 1st Round Draft Pick + Prospect + ?
Okay, now it’s not an original idea, as some people have brought up both Palmieri and Blake Coleman’s names up on other sites due to their age, and the fact that each is locked down for another season at their current cap hit. I do think the Devils could entertain trading one of them to help gather more talented young players closer in age to Nico Hischier and Jack Hughes.
I’m not necessarily advocating for moving either, but if the Devils did decide to move on, I see it being Palmieri on the move, despite the Devils being stronger on the other wing. Palms has more mileage on himself, and will probably want more money than Coleman to stick around. I also think a return on Kyle would be better because he has proven more over a longer span of time. Additionally, the return that the MInnesota Wild got in the Jason Zucker trade (as analyzed here by Todd Cordell) has now set a precedent that would leave one to believe that Palms/Pickles should get the same if not more.
I will also state that unless the Devils are easily winning the trade (such as a Zucker-esque return payout), they probably should not entertain trading either Palmieri or Coleman.
Now that I’ve made my predictions, I’d like to hear yours: who do the Devils ship out at the trade deadline? Is it someone you want to see moved, or don’t want to see moved? Any particular expectations for returns, in general or in specific? Leave any and all comments below and thanks as always for reading!