Writer’s Twitter: @ChrisMottHockey
What Just Happened?
Devils’ fans expected Feb. 16 to be just another game day against the Columbus Blue Jackets, who are battling for a playoff spot. Our pregame article was posted for all to read and fans are looking forward to the game that night. Then some news starts coming in on hockey Twitter, and it was a trade featuring our New Jersey Devils. My first thought was, “alright who did we move, was it Wayne Simmonds or Sami Vatanen”, two players rumored to be available? No, it was instead captain Andy Greene who was traded to the New York Islanders, and Lou Lamoriello got his defenseman again.
At this point fans are caught off guard because out of all the assets the Devils have that were rumored to be available at this point, nobody thought Greene would be the first one moved, let alone moved at all period. He was a workhorse and absolutely deserved the captain status he earned. We will get into the returns of these deals a little bit further in, but as of this point on Sunday, fans and teammates had to prepare for a game without their ironman captain.
Then more news comes out in the form of Blake Coleman not being in the lineup, and Devils’ fans are on edge. Coleman was a fan favorite and in such a different way than usual. Most fan-favorite players are just good people who interact great with the fans, which Coleman certainly did, but it was his effort on the ice that made him a fan favorite.
There was never a game where Coleman wasn’t giving 200% effort, and that tenacity and grit was why he became a fan favorite and leader on the team. Then all of sudden, tweets come out saying that Coleman was not in fact traded which made fans such as myself happy. Then comes the news that Coleman will not be in the lineup as a “precautionary measure,” which the last player that happened with was Taylor Hall before he was traded… I’m sure I can speak for all Devils fans by summing up our mood at this point as:
The news would eventually break during the game though that Coleman had in fact been traded to the Tampa Bay Lightning and it was official, a player that no one wanted gone was traded. Now that the dust has settled a little bit, we can put the emotional part of it aside and instead focus on the assets and evaluate the return and the future of our Devils.
The Andy Greene Trade
|Devils Acquire||Islanders Acquire|
|David Quenneville (D)|
2021 2nd Round Pick (NYI)
|Andy Greene (D)|
The Devils’ first trade was with the Islanders and former general manager Lou Lamoriello, who knows Greene very well from his time in New Jersey. Looking at the trade, the Islanders will gain a solid defenseman for a run at the playoffs. Greene is willing to put his body on the line to block shots, play smart defensively, and lead others, which is what a team wants from a player going into the playoffs. The Islanders (72 Points) added depth to their blue line, as they sit in third place in the Metropolitan Division, with Columbus (72 Points), Philadelphia (71 Points), and Carolina (70 Points) right on their heels.
The Devils, in turn, received from the Islanders a defensive prospect in David Quenneville, who is related to former Devils’ prospect John Quenneville. The Devils’ also received a second-round pick in 2021 from the Islanders. For the Devils, they are playing a long-term asset management game. They are not going to compete this season for the playoffs, though they are doing great playing spoiler, as they keep playing hard every night.
Whether the Devils keep that pick for the draft in 2021 or use it to try and bring a different asset in is up for debate, but they’ll have options and unlike a couple years ago when the rebuild began, there are young pillars and cornerstones in place, as well as veteran leadership. There is also one extra additional piece the Devils received from the Islanders besides Quenneville and the draft pick. For those who are not aware, Uncle Lou just set the trade market for defensemen, which means the return for a potential Sami Vatanen trade more than likely has just gone up even more.
The Blake Coleman Trade
|Devils Acquire||Lightning Acquire|
|Nolan Foote (FWD)|
2020 1st Round Pick* (VAN)
* If the Canucks do not make the playoffs in 2019-20, the 2020 1st round pick will transfer to a 2021 1st round pick instead. (Per CapFriendly)
|Blake Coleman (FWD)|
The more time I have had to analyze this trade, the more I am really beginning to love what Tom Fitzgerald pulled off. Coleman is having the best season of his career on a team that has severely missed the mark in terms of expectations. The Lightning are adding depth to go on a deep playoff run, and I am sure having Stamkos, Kucherov, and Point all out of the lineup within a close time frame helped motivate this move. Tampa is not playing around after last season. They started out the season horribly given their expectations, yet they are now one of the hottest teams in the league. I see Coleman actually playing a vital role for the Bolts not so much now but in the playoffs.
The Devils in return are acquiring a top prospect in Nolan Foote, who is also the son of former NHL defenseman Adam Foote, as well an additional first-round pick, which was originally owned by the Vancouver Canucks. Fitzgerald did a great job maximizing the return, and as much as I hate to agree with what he said in that post-game press conference, there is no guarantee Coleman does not regress in the future and that his current peak value does not drop. This was a case of “sell high” and kudos to Fitzgerald for making the tough and less popular decision but obtaining a tentative third, first-round pick in a very deep 2020 NHL Draft.
Recapping the Main Points
- Andy Greene waived his no-trade clause and will become a UFA this summer. He is officially the first trade deadline deal the Devils have made this season. Taylor Hall was traded way before the deadline.
- The Devils now tentatively have three first-round picks (Their own, Arizona’s, and Vancouver’s) in the upcoming 2020 NHL Draft which is being considered extremely deep by many draft experts
- The Devils acquired a defensive prospect in David Quenneville and a very talented and highly ranked forward prospect in Nolan Foote.
- Lou Lamoriello just helped set the price for defensemen at the trade deadline, which more than likely means Sami Vatanen’s potential trade value just went up.
- The decision to move Blake Coleman was not the popular decision, but in the end, it will more than likely have been the correct move to make.