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NJ Devils Rumors—To Trade or Not To Trade?

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There’s been a lot of swirling around the rumor mill about certain Devils players lately— who are they, where do the rumors come from, and what should the Devils do with these players?

New Jersey Devils v New York Rangers Photo by Jared Silber/NHLI via Getty Images

Ah, off-season. That wonderful time of year where everybody knows somebody who knows something, and 99.92685% of the time, it’s not even remotely accurate.

Where do all these people get these sources, and why does everyone believe Hockey496274728’s second cousin’s best friend’s ex boyfriend?

But the rumors come around nonetheless, so here we are to try and sort out the whispers from the walnuts.

Damon Severson

Ten days ago Ray Ferraro was discussing the Vancouver Canucks and what they need to fix to make their team a true cup contender. Why this is even a topic of conversation for a team where the average age of their top five scorers is 12, I don’t know. But there they are on TSN, and Ferraro comes out with the following gem of insight: “I think Damon Severson has soured in Jersey. He can skate, he’s got a howitzer for a shot. Right shot. Yeah, if he’s available in a ballpark you can make it work, he’s the guy I think you can make work... If Jersey is willing to move him, I think that’s a chance worth taking.”

Yeah, no. I’m gonna stop you right there Ray Ferraro. Why, for any reason north of a frozen Hell, would the Devils shop Damon Severson? If you ask me, the last sentence being IF Jersey is willing to move him suggests Ferraro has little to no reason to believe the Devil’s viewpoint on Severson has ‘soured’ enough for him to be shopped. However, no one actually asked me, and apparently most did not interpret it the same way as hockey fans throughout the NHL have taken to including Severson in more and more ridiculous trade proposals, some satirical (Severson for Draisaitl anyone?) and some entirely sincere.

Personally, I think if this organization trades one of the very few bright spots in our defensive core, especially for an overpaid and underachieving forward as many have proposed, I might have to fly to Newark to investigate if Tom Fitzgerald is actually Peter Chiarelli in disguise. It makes very little sense, and Ferraro himself explains why perfectly: Severson has a ton of skill and even more potential. He’s also on a very team friendly contract at 6 years, $25mil through ‘23-’24 with this year’s AAV at $4.675mil. Additionally, he happens to have been arguably the best defenseman on the team this past season with the best 5v5 CF%, xGF, SCF%, HDCF%, and more of any of the regular defensemen, including those no longer with the team, and we don’t have a whole lot else going for us in the back end.

Long story short— I think the Devils would have to be beyond stupid to trade Severson, and I’d like to think the organization I root for is at least slightly shy of stupid, so I do not think the Devils are planning to trade him any time soon.

Kyle Palmieri

Once again, just because a player has value does not mean a team should immediately shop him. I tend to see this phenomenon more often with smaller market teams where as soon as a player hits the radar, they become an instant conversation piece as trade bait, usually to more popular teams, whereas when players on large market teams become valuable, the topic is how important it is for that team to hold onto them. From what I’ve seen, the near-constant rumors about trading Palmieri seem to come only from his value, as there’s been little credible information about it otherwise. The Devils had a garage sale this past season. If they wanted to get rid of Palmieri, they would have. Sure, maybe there’s something specific they’re after that wouldn’t have been available until after the playoffs, but that’s unlikely in my opinion— Palmieri is exactly the type of player a team seeking the playoffs would have wanted at the deadline: experienced, consistent, skilled, not unreasonably expensive for his impact. Its more than likely that plenty of teams were in fact interested in the 29 year old sniper, but he wasn’t for sale. Yes he’ll need a new contract at the end of this coming season, but the Devils are in a good position to be able to renegotiate, and the NJ native has a lot of external motivation to want to stick around.

Additionally, Palmieri’s typical presence as a shooter makes him a unique position in a generally playmaker-styled forward, and we’ve talked a lot about how important that is for the Devils to continue to grow, not sell. To put it bluntly, we have one guy on the entire team who’s job is to pull the trigger and actually does it. That’s not the guy you trade just because he has value to other teams. He has more value here, especially as the youth he’s surrounded by continue to learn and improve.

Other rumors have surfaced that the Devils are in talks to extend Palmieri. This could be pure wishful thinking from fans, but I’ll take it as a good sign.

What Would it Take to Trade One?

Honestly, with the roster troubles the Devils have currently, a good player has more value to this team than they would to other teams with a more stable roster situation. That makes it tough to come up with a fair price that another team would sensibly pay. The most likely and reasonable outcome of a trade involving either of those two players in my opinion would be if we were to package them with another player, probably of less immediate value to the roster like a 4th liner/3rd pairing or a prospect, in exchange for a more valuable player the team isn’t able to keep. For example, Vancouver’s cap crunch could force them to trade a young stud like Brock Boeser, who’s been surrounded by his own fair share of trade rumors. Toronto is also in this position, and their GM has made statements that imply he will be making similar moves in search of defensive strength. Another situation that could come up would be a Patrik Laine type situation, in which a team has a player that has requested a trade and is essentially useless to them otherwise unless they can sell them. Laine would replace Palmieri’s shooting skills for us and Palmieri for the Jets, which would be a pretty fair deal for all— the Devils would most likely just have to send another less valuable player to Winnipeg to compensate for the difference in age.

Barring one of such situations however, I don’t see the Devils making a trade for either of those two players this offseason.

Well Then, Who Should We Trade?

Outside those two players, there’s honestly not a lot of players on the Devils roster I’d consider untouchable. Its probably simpler to list who we shouldn’t trade.

Who should we definitely not trade? Nico Hischier. Jack Hughes. Mackenzie Blackwood.

Who should we probably not trade? Jesper Bratt. Nikita Gusev—contract extension dependent here— if we can re-sign him, we absolutely should 100% keep him. If not, sell and sell high. Travis Zajac—might be a controversial opinion, but this is one where I think the value we get from him is a lot more than other teams would be willing to pay for him.

Everybody else? Fair game.

Who do I want us to try to trade?

Mirco Müller— y’all may have noticed I’m not a huge fan of Müller. There’s enough teams looking for defensive help that we can probably get someone to take him off our hands, and just about anything we’d get back would probably be a reasonable return. We need defense, but in my opinion he generally does more harm than good, and I’d rather see us make room for younger prospects to come through and develop. We need a slot for Ty Smith anyway.

Dakota Mermis, Matt Tennyson— please reread above paragraph but with a slightly more exasperated tone

Cory Schneider— I’m not saying we should, but... I’m saying we should try. I’m all for loyalty but honestly a fresh start could be a huge help for Schneids and there are a lot of teams that will be looking for experienced goaltending before next season. I wouldn’t be disappointed to see us give him another shot, but I also wouldn’t disappointed or surprised to see we’ve dealt him. It just might be the best thing for everyone in this strange situation.

Your Take

Who do you think we should trade? What would you take for any of these players? Who would you target? Leave your deals in the comments, and thanks for reading!