Today is finally the day. Specifically, the final day for trades in the National Hockey League. Today is the 2020 NHL Trade Deadline. All 31 teams have until 3:00 PM ET to register their trades with the league. After then, the 23-man active roster limit is lifted and teams are limited to four non-emergency call-ups through the rest of the season. Teams must still be compliant to the salary cap and the fifty contract limit. This day effectively begins stretch run to close out the 2019-20 regular season.
As with last season, the fate of this season for the New Jersey Devils has been set months ago. The team face planted from the start of the season and never recovered. The Devils have been swamped in the run of play, struggled to score goals, and can only really keep them out of the net if Mackenzie Blackwood is playing fantastic (which has happened in the past few weeks). The fans that were excited back in September are either hoping this season would end, dreading what could come next, or having checked out earlier awaiting for a reason to get excited again. The head coach, John Hynes, and general manager, Ray Shero, since 2015 have both been axed. It is not known who will be the GM or head coach next season. While recent weeks have pushed the Devils out of the bottom five spots in the league standings, they could easily fall down to anywhere between 27th and 29th in a matter of days. With the March schedule the team has on paper, things are likely to get uglier before they get better or the season ends for the Devils.
It was not totally apparent whether the Devils would be sellers until last Sunday. The team only made two trades before then. They acquired backup Louis Domingue for a conditional seventh round pick in 2021. That condition was met so Tampa Bay will get that while Domingue cleared waivers recently and was sent down to Binghamton on this past Friday. A far bigger deal was made in December. On December, 16, 2019, the Devils sent Taylor Hall (with 50% retained salary) and Blake Speers to Arizona in exchange for a top-three protected first round pick in 2020, a conditional third round pick in 2021 (it can become a second if Hall re-signs in Arizona or Arizona wins a playoff round; it becomes a first if both happen), Nick Merkley, Nate Schnarr, and prospect defenseman Kevin Bahl. Since then, the Devils stood pat, Shero was fired in mid-January, and it was not clear what interim GM Tom Fitzgerald and the rest of the management team would do. Ownership said they were tired of losing but nothing the team has shown since Shero or Hynes was fired suggested they were on the right path to any success.
The answer came hours before the Devils 4-3 shootout win over Columbus. Team captain, long-time Devil, and left-sided defenseman Andy Greene waived his no trade clause and was dealt to the New York Islanders for their second round pick in 2021 and David Quenneville. Blake Coleman was announced as being held out for precautionary reasons. During the game, the news came out that Coleman was sent to Tampa Bay for Nolan Foote and Vancouver’s conditional first round pick in 2020 (it’s a 2020 pick if Vancouver makes the playoff, it becomes a 2021 first rounder if they do not). Trading your captain and one of your most useful and productive players are both moves that selling teams do. The Devils are indeed sellers again for this year’s deadline.
I wrote a primer about today’s NHL Trade Deadline last Monday. Since last Sunday, the Devils have been quiet. There are several recent points to consider ahead of today’s activities since that primer went up:
- Will Butcher picked up an upper body injury and has been out the past few games. Not that the Devils should trade him, but this is notable.
- Again, Domingue was held out of Thursday’s game as Blackwood’s backup for “precautionary reasons” - and was placed on waivers. He cleared and was sent down to Binghamton on Friday. Domingue has done so poorly in the NHL, but if a team wants him for their AHL team, then the Devils can trade him now and the new team would not need to send him down through waivers again. We’ll see.
- Also notable is that Sami Vatanen remains on injured reserve. He did not see any ice time in this past week. While teams who would want him need him to be healthy for late March, April, and possibly May, this may dampen any deals for him.
- On Thursday, Pierre LeBrun tweeted that Vancouver may be less interested in Wayne Simmonds due to Vancouver’s cap situation. However, there remains plenty of chatter out of Vancouver.
- Lastly, on CBC’s Saturday Headlines (clipped here by Jim Biringer), Elliotte Friedman stated that there is interest in Simmonds and Vatanen. The Devils would need a lot to move Kyle Palmieri.
It remains to be seen how and how much Fitzgerald will keep moving assets. Especially since he could very well be setting the table for someone else in a few months. So far, the Devils have potentially three first rounders for a 2020 NHL Draft class that looks to be great in the top ten, good in the middle ten, and all over the place beyond then. They replaced the second round gap for 2021 with the Greene trade. Foote is a prospect that the Devils’ pool just did not have: a scoring winger. The Devils could seek out more picks and prospective players. I agree with CJ that the Coleman trade signified that the Devils are rebuilding to a degree. Today we will know how much more of that will be performed.
This is an open post for you to discuss what happens for the 2020 NHL Trade Deadline. What has happened, what is about to happen, and what shouldn’t happen in terms of trades and transactions. Please feel free to chat about what the New Jersey Devils should do, should not do, and what they have done so far. You can even talk up what other teams should, should not do, and what they have done so far.
Here is the annual reminder for these types of posts: Please do not post false rumors, “hot tips from sources” that nobody knows, and cite Twitter accounts that aren’t legit or real insiders (Hint: spelling insider wrong is a clue that they are not one). Nobody here has the time for riling people up over fake rumors and made up junk that wouldn’t fly in the EA NHL games. Instead, please stick to following real people with real Verified marks on Twitter accounts. Actually check if the Verified mark is legit too. Please follow real sources of news from known beat reporters to big companies (e.g. TSN’s Tradecentre) to credible hubs (e.g. SB Nation’s NHL Trade Rumor Hub) to even the team’s official website and/or social media accounts. As always: It’s better to be right than first. All other rules apply (no trolling, no swearing, no personal attacks etc.) to this post as well.
We’ll keep up with what the Devils do during the day as it happens. We’ll likely will have a summary up in the evening at some point after all of the dust settles. There will likely be another episode of Garden State of Hockey recorded too. The Devils’ previous game was their 3-2 win over Washington on Saturday afternoon. They are off until Tuesday night, where they will start a five-game road trip in Detroit. If nothing else, the organization will be in travel mode. We will find out if anyone will make a different trip today. All the same, enjoy the 2020 NHL Trade Deadline and discuss it here with your fellow Devils fan. Thank you for reading.