2016 Draft Outlook Part 4: Trades

Since the draft lottery last Saturday, the rumor mill has been spinning wildly. Questions on whether Edmonton keeps the fourth overall pick, or if Arizona attempts to bring in the hometown star (and top draft prospect) Auston Matthews, at the expense of mortgaging the bulk of their future, filled the blogosphere. The New Jersey Devils were not exempted from the whirlwind of rumors and speculation, and have been the subject of some interesting and pretty conceivable hypothetic deals. One such scenario beckons the question as to how likely it will be for Ray Shero to try and move up from 11th overall.

Like I mentioned earlier, Edmonton is supposedly looking to trade their pick for defensive help. With the Devil’s surplus of budding young defensemen, the two teams would seem like an ideal match to execute a trade…This is not the case. At 4th overall the Devils would likely pick one of Mathew Tkachuk or Pierre Luc-Dubois.

Pierre Luc-Dubois is an elite power forward

Pierre Luc-Dubois is an elite power forward

Tkachuk is a skilled goal scoring wing while Pierre Luc-Dubois is a pro-ready center. Both are considered to be elite talents who could provide immediate aid in mending the Devil’s offensive woes. The problem is not in who they would pick but what Shero would have to send the other way. The package would inevitably include a Damon Severson-type player if the Devils even want to talk to the Oilers about acquiring the 4th overall pick.

Based purely on speculation, I could see a deal between the Devils and Oilers looking something like this in the end:

To Edmonton:
Damon Severson
Devils First round pick (11th Overall)
Devils third round pick (one of the two they currently have)

To New Jersey:
4th Overall

The problem with this trade is that the value of acquiring the 4th overall pick does not offset the value of Damon Severson’s proportionality. After Severson endured the burdens of the dreaded sophomore slump season, a trend that’s no uncommon amongst young NHL players (especially defensemen), many forget how promising he looked in his injury-riddled rookie season. Severson is one of the few Devils defensive prospects that provide any sort of offense from the blue line. Severson should not be moved. He is a valuable member of the future of this franchise, and might not be worth parting ways with at the cost of moving up seven spots in the draft.

Let us also keep in mind the talent between the 4th and 11th overall picks stretches out rather unprecedentedly. At 11th overall, these 3 prospects should still be available. All of them have around the same chance of being NHL stars as Luc-Dubois and Tkachuk have. So selling a defenseman as valuable as Severson when you can keep him, and gain a solid forward isn’t what the Devils need to do. With a team starved for young talent it would be tough to get rid of someone with Severson’s upside.

If the Devils were to make any deals on draft day, the smarter move would be to trade down. The Devils should look towards Carolina, Boston, or somebody else drafting in that range. This would allow one of those teams to have a shot at grabbing a Tyson Jost or Clayton Keller-type player while the Devils would likely have someone like Logan Brown or Max Jones be available when it’s their time to pick, and could even pry a notable prospect from the team they’d trade back with as well.

An example of what I’d like to see the Devils do if they were to trade down is demonstrated in this hypothetical trade scenario with the Carolina Hurricanes:

To Carolina:
Devils first round pick (11th Overall)
Devils third round pick (one of the two they currently have)

To New Jersey
Sergey Tolchinsky
Hurricanes first round pick (13th Overall)

Tolchinsky notched an assist over the course of his first 2 NHL games last season

Tolchinsky notched an assist over the course of his first 2 NHL games this season

The move would essentially allow Carolina to try and get a higher rated prospect, while the Devils would add another skilled forward to their organization. The problem with this hypothetical move with Carolina is they too are also starved for young talented forwards. So the Devils might have to look farther back in the first round to try this maneuver. Obviously the placement in the draft is ideal for the scenario I typed above. It could have worked out much better if a more offensively saturated team occupied the 13th overall slot.

From what I can conclude, the Devils should probably hang onto the 11th overall pick. Unless they really want Tkachuk or Luc-Dubois, they shouldn’t make the jump to 4th overall, or anywhere in that range. At No. 11, there will be plenty of skilled forwards available and they can pick them without trading any of their other young assets. As exciting as the prospect of a trade may be, and from what I presented in the two scenarios above, the smart move for the Devils (as of now), is to probably stay put.


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