It took until the final hour, but the New Jersey Devils have made a move. They sent Utica Comets forward Nate Schnarr to the Montreal Canadiens for goaltender Andrew Hammond.
#TRADE: We have acquired goaltender Andrew Hammond from Montreal, in exchange for Nate Schnarr. pic.twitter.com/T0rYXrTq2v— New Jersey Devils (@NJDevils) March 21, 2022
Is this a minor deal? In a sense, yes. The Devils traded away a player who has featured entirely for the AHL affiliate since being acquired from the Taylor Hall trade in 2019. Andrew Hammond has largely played in the AHL in recent seasons. He caught onto some fire with Ottawa in the middle part of last decade and backstopped the 2014-15 Senators team with an incredible 20-1-2 record that helped that team make the playoffs. He also obtained the nickname, “The Hamburglar,” amid that hot run. While he was good in 24 games in 2015-16, he faded out of the NHL and mostly played in the AHL since the 2016-17 season. He suffered some injuries this season and Montreal acquired him from the Minnesota organization for Brandon Baddock. Yet, he did make four appearances for Montreal this season. Four appearances that went well wherein he stopped 62 out of 65 shots against. It is nothing to write home about or put a lot of hope in, but it is at least a recent sign he is not a sieve at the NHL level.
Ultimately, this is the type of acquisition that I think should have Jon Gillies rightfully relegated to depth status. It is possible that Hammond may not be that much of an upgrade over Gillies or the duo of Nico Daws or Akira Schmid. It is very much a stop-gap move, but it shows that Tom Fitzgerald is at least able to do something at goaltender in the short term. It is by no means a permanent fix. The position will still need to be addressed in a major way this offseason. If it means making some more of the next 20 games not be near-impossible to win, I am OK with a move like this.
Did it have to cost a decent AHL hand in Schnarr? A player who was doing well on a really good Utica team? I do not know. The Devils could have made a move for Hammond much earlier too given he was moved to Montreal just for Baddock. The Devils do not have a plethora of picks, but in a trade market where picks from 2023 and 2024 were being handed out, I would not have minded seeing a mid-round pick from those later years instead. That would have been my preference. That stated, if management did not see a path for Schnarr to make it to New Jersey one day, then it is probably better than moving him in a minor deal next year or in the future if retained beyond his current contract. I do not love it, but I understand it.
What do you think of this move? Would you have made this move? Is the goaltending tandem now Daws and Hammond or do you think Gillies still factors in? Will there be any more to come out after the 3 PM ET deadline? Please leave your answers in the comments. Thank you for reading.