The New Jersey Devils have seen a number of rumors swirling around them as the NHL trade deadline approaches. A variety of trade proposals and scenarios have been thrown around across various websites and in comment sections. Almost, if not everybody, seems to expect the Devils to make a splash at the trade deadline; if the big deal isn’t there, or the price isn’t to management’s liking, the general consensus also appears to be that the Devils will at least make a small addition.
But what if they don’t?
What if the Devils stand pat at the deadline and decide they like the group they have to go into the postseason with? What if they decide even the minor moves they could make aren’t to their liking, either price point or player wise? Does this mean the Devils are admitting they’re not good enough this season to make a long run in the postseason? If that winds up being the case, I think there could be some logic (rather than waving a flag surrendering the Cup) as to why.
Firstly, there are some areas where many feel that the Devils still need to upgrade; while the Devils are 8th (as of this writing) in goals for, it feels like outside of a handful of players, the team struggles to put the puck in the net. Additionally, there’s a least one spot on the back end where many feel like the team could use an upgrade in order to make a serious run in the postseason. Depth is also questionable among the squad in general, as some of the players lower in the lineup are viewed as underperforming. While fans, analysts and writers seemingly feel this way, perhaps the Devils do not. Maybe they're happy with their top guys being their top contributors and feel like the depth players are providing what they need to. And to be fair, when the team is currently sitting third in both points and points percentage, maybe there’s reason to be happy with the personnel the team currently has.
Additionally, while the playoffs are still not a guarantee, if the team does get back there, perhaps General Manager Tom Fitzgerald sees this as an evaluation opportunity. Of the Devils current players, only a handful have any experience in the postseason. It could be a good opportunity to see who will sink or who will swim for this team when the pace and environment are amplified. Those who do well? The Devils make sure to keep as part of the plan going forward to add a 4th championship for the franchise. Those who don’t? Cut them loose or move them for others who might better fit both the team and the postseason grind.
Perhaps today’s speculation winds up being all for nothing if the Devils make a move for a player prior to March 3rd. At the same time, if the Devils qualify for the playoffs and whether they make an acquisition or not, maybe Fitzgerald still uses the games to evaluate who is worth keeping around to help the team long-term. Either way, it’s nice to be having these kinds of conversations we we move deeper into February and towards March, rather than the “who do the Devils move and for what package of futures” conversations that have dominated most of the past decade. There’s an excitement around these Devils, and rightfully so; they’re not a perfect team, but they’re young, they’re exciting, they have Jack Hughes, and they have a shot to make some noise in the postseason. Whether they acquire anyone to try and make a greater push or feel like this group could get the job done will be a fun narrative to keep our eyes peeled for.
How would you feel if the Devils chose to stand pat at the trade deadline? Do you think there are positions that they need to improve upon? Would you rather they try out the group they have and see who rises to the top? Do you think for all the talk and rumors swirling that they make just a small addition? Leave any and all comments below and thanks as always for reading!