In this article, we look at the Devils’ current playoff situation and then take an early look at the 2017 Trade Deadline, where we consider potential trade partners, examine which players may leave New Jersey by the end of February, and finally we propose six trades that the Devils may make between now and the Deadline.
The New Jersey Devils are nothing more than a zombie team at this point in the 2016-17 season. They sit 7 points out of a playoff spot with 38 games remaining and only a 0.6 percent chance of qualifying for the postseason, per SportsClubStats.com. According to the site, the Devils would need to go 24-9-5 to have a 60% chance at the postseason. To put it bluntly, that’s not going to happen with this team. It’s time to concede the season.
The Devils are in a very unique situation as the February 28 trade deadline slowly approaches. The team has a combined 9 draft picks in the first three rounds of the next two draft years (2017 and 2018). In the next two drafts, the Devils have two first round picks (their own), four second round picks (two of their own, a 2017 pick from Boston and a 2018 from Florida), and three third round draft picks (Colorado’s 2017 pick, their own pick in 2018, and Toronto’s 2018 pick).
In addition to having plenty of picks to dish out, it’s also worth noting that the Devils currently have roughly $16.275 million in cap space for this season, the third-most of any team in the league as per CapFriendly. This means that the Devils have many opportunities available for them to upgrade their roster leading up to the deadline. I expect the Devils to be both buyers and sellers leading up to and at the deadline, dishing out players like PA Parenteau, Vern Fiddler and Kyle Quincey in exchange for draft picks, and then flipping those picks for players from other teams that are strapped for Cap space and will have a hard time re-signing some younger guys.
Potential Trade Partners
Ottawa Senators – Likely to fight for a playoff spot in the Atlantic Division, the Sens are a young team and are rather inexperienced, especially on defense. They also have $5 million in cap space, so they will be willing to take on a big contract if it means getting them back to the postseason. Be on the lookout for a player like Quincey or Lovejoy to head here. The Sens do not have a 2nd or 5th round draft pick this year, so a trade with this team would likely have to be a player swap.
Boston Bruins – Competing with the Sens for an Atlantic Division playoff spot, the B’s have about $3.5 million and may be looking for some depth. They do not have a 3rd or 5th round draft pick this year, though, so this would also have to be a player swap.
Florida Panthers – One of two teams with more cap space than the Devils, the Panthers may well be competing for an Atlantic Division playoff spot or Wild Card spot come the trade deadline. The Panthers have over $8.5 million in cap space and will be looking for experienced depth players come playoff time. They would love a guy like PA Parenteau and may even be interested in a player like Cammalleri. The Panthers have two third round picks in this year’s draft, so they may be willing to move one of them for the right price.
Carolina Hurricanes – The Canes are another team that may be fighting for a playoff spot, and there’s a good chance they’ll be buyers at the deadline. They have the most cap space of any team with over $15.5 million and could definitely use experienced depth players or scoring forwards. They may be interested in Cammalleri or Parenteau to help bolster their scoring, and have five picks in the first three rounds of this year’s draft as well as a deep prospect pool. We could see a multi-player trade between these two teams.
Edmonton Oilers – The Oilers have over $5 million in cap space and may be seeking depth players. This is a very young team that has potential to make the playoffs, they’re going to need experience to help them at either forward or defense. The Devils may be able to help with that. The Oilers have eight picks in this year’s draft, including two third-round picks and two fifth-round picks, so this could be a good potential partner, especially considering the two teams have done business recently.
Potential Devils on the Move
Vern Fiddler… The 36-year-old left winger/centerman is currently signed to a $1.25 million contract for this season. While he has only 3 points in 35 NHL games, playoff teams looking for a reliable penalty killer and capable faceoff taker may be interested in the veterans’ services. The Devils could probably fetch a mid-late round draft pick for Fiddler.
Devante Smith-Pelly… This is somebody the Devils may want to hang onto seeing as he fits into the team’s rebuilding plans (24-year-old winger with a gritty touch), but he’s a young forward that can be a boost to a playoff team’s third checking line or fourth line at an affordable price. Additionally, he will be a restricted free agent (RFA) when his contract expires, so this is a very low-risk trade for any team that is willing to take him on. DSP is currently signed until the 2018-19 season at $1.3 million per year. If the Devils elect to trade his services, they could expect a mid-round draft pick in return. The best chances of him being shipped out are in a package deal.
Michael Cammalleri… 34-year-old Cammalleri is signed until the 2019-20 season at $5 million per year, complete with a No Trade Clause (NTC) on his contract. Moving Cammalleri may prove difficult because of his clause, but I’m sure he would be willing to waive it if it gave him a chance to raise the Cup. The scoring winger could be an asset to any team looking to fill out their second or third lines, however finding a suitor might be hard since many teams are strapped for cash. The Devils would more likely than not have to retain some salary if they look to move him, and could expect an early draft pick or a younger player in return.
PA Parenteau… The Devils’ leading goal scorer is signed to a very affordable $1.25 million contract for the rest of this season, and would be a great rental player at the deadline for any team looking to fill out their second or third scoring lines. He’s a strong offensive player that is capable of putting the puck in the net, and is reliable on defense or special team units as well. Parenteau could likely be had for an early draft pick or a younger player heading back to New Jersey.
Jacob Josefson… The former first round draft pick’s contract expires after this season, when he will become an RFA. Josefson has struggled to establish himself as a regular on a pretty bad team, so I doubt that he would fetch anything more than a late-round draft pick if the Devils were able to move him. That being said, he’s a young, speedy player and a shootout specialist on a low-risk move for the recipient of JJ’s contract since he would be a rental and RFA. They Devils would be better off trying to package him in a trade deal with another team if they were looking to get rid of him.
Kyle Quincey… Quincey, a 31-year-old defenseman, could be a good third-pairing defenseman for a playoff team that is injury depleted come the trade deadline. He has 54 games of playoff experience under his belt, and brings good size (6’2″, 216 lbs) to prospective teams. The veteran is a capable stay-at-home defender and can get some good looks on offense every once in a while as well. He would be a rental player as his contract is up after this season, but he would be a cheap acquisition at only $1.25 million.
Adam Henrique… No Devils fan would like to see Henrique be moved, but if the Devils decide to go after some high-profile players such as James van Riemsdyk or Kevin Shattenkirk, that team would be looking for an NHL-ready player as well as prospects and picks in return. Henrique does not have a NTC on his contract and is pretty affordable at $4 million per year. With the Devils having plenty of centers both on their current roster and prospects, I would not be at all surprised to see Henrique moved come deadline time if it’s for the right guy.
*Salary cap statistics from CapFriendly.com.
NOTE: All of these trades are merely speculation by the writer. We do not have, nor do we claim to have, any insider knowledge about the New Jersey Devils trade plans. All of the trades listed below are independent of each other; you may see a player(s) listed in multiple trade proposals.
New Jersey Devils & Detroit Red Wings
To New Jersey: Tomas Tatar
To Detroit: 2017 Second Round Pick.
Reasoning: The Red Wings have the least amount of salary cap space available out of any team in the league. They have three players on Long-Term Injured Reserve (LTIR) that do not factor in to their salary cap, as well as three players on the Injured Reserve (IR) list. When they get healthy, the Wings will have to make some moves to free up Cap space. The Wings only have three players on expiring contracts and five pending Restricted Free Agents (RFA’s). Those RFA’s, including Tomas Tatar, will all want significant pay raises, leaving Detroit even more strapped for cash. The 26-year-old Tatar, already making $2.75 million, will want a pay raise next year that the Red Wings simply can’t afford. Also add in to the mix that Tatar’s numbers have declined this year due to a nagging shoulder injury that he doesn’t plan to address until the offseason, which makes him more of a liability and decreases his trade value, and the Devils could find a diamond in the rough for nothing more than a draft pick. Tatar is a young player that can score, has great hockey sense and offensive instincts, is speedy and has great puck handling skills. A trade for Tatar would likely mirror the Kyle Palmieri trade. If Ray Shero could finagle it, he may be able to get Tatar for a third round pick, but I think it will take at least a second rounder to get him to Jersey.
New Jersey Devils & Arizona Coyotes
To New Jersey: Michael Stone
To Arizona: 2018 Second Round Pick
Reasoning: It’s no small secret that the Devils are rather lackluster on defense. They lack puck-moving, physical defenseman and the 26-year-old right-handed defenseman may be able to bolster the Devils’ defensive corps after the loss of Adam Larsson over the offseason. Michael Stone, a 6’3”, 210lb defenseman, is on the last year of his $4 million contract with the Coyotes, who are in the top 5 teams with the least amount of cap space. That being said, the Yotes will want to ditch his contract if they can because he has been struggling to put up similar points to last season after undergoing surgery on a torn ACL and damaged MCL in April. His underlying numbers this season aren’t great, which may be a result of the team that he is on, but he can play on the power play and rack up points in doing so, and logs over 20 minutes of ice time on average over the past few seasons. He also isn’t a defensive liability and is strong in his own zone as well as makes good, crisp outlet passes to start a rush. He could probably be had for cheap due to concerns of his ACL & MCL surgeries plaguing his play. The Coyotes do not have a second round pick in 2018, so the Devils shipping one of theirs over to address their need makes sense.
New Jersey Devils & Minnesota Wild
To New Jersey: Matt Dumba, Jason Zucker
To Minnesota: Michael Cammalleri, Devante Smith-Pelly, 2017 Second Round Draft Pick
Reasoning: This is a move that, if it were to happen, would be much more likely to occur at a draft than mid-season. However, we are going to roll with it for argument’s sake. The Devils need a young, offensive defenseman, and Matt Dumba fills that role. He can play physical, can put the puck in the net from the blue line, would be great on the power play, and has good speed as well. His defensive game is a weakness, however. On the other hand, Jason Zucker, much like Dumba, is a forward that has speed, can score, play physical, and is not afraid to take a shot – all things New Jersey needs. Minnesota, on the other hand, needs impact forwards. Cammalleri can provide the impact that the Wild need to make a deep playoff run, and DSP can provide some fourth-line grit for their club. The Wild do not have a second round draft pick in 2017, so the Devils would need to throw their pick in there if they have any hopes of making this trade happen. Perhaps adding a player like PA Parenteau to the mix would solidify this deal as it is a long shot to happen.
New Jersey Devils & Edmonton Oilers
To New Jersey: 2017 Fifth Round Draft Pick
To Edmonton: Vern Fiddler
Reasoning: The Oilers are surprisingly in a very competitive spot for a playoff position in the Pacific Division. They could use a proven centerman to assist with faceoffs and provide some experience for a young roster heading into the postseason. A fifth round pick may be asking too much for Fiddler’s services, but the Oilers do have two fifth rounders in 2017, so they may be more willing to move the pick for a veteran centerman.
New Jersey Devils & Toronto Maple Leafs
To New Jersey: James Van Riemsdyk
To Toronto: Travis Zajac (NJ retains some salary), Third Round Pick
Reasoning: Lou Lamoriello loved Travis Zajac during his time in New Jersey and would surely love to get his hands on him again. JvR is somebody whose name repeatedly comes up from Devils fans around the trade deadline or offseason, and his name continues to be floated around the rumor mill. Seeing as he is a Jersey native, a deal to bring him to New Jersey isn’t totally out of the realm of possibility.
New Jersey Devils & St. Louis Blues
To New Jersey: Kevin Shattenkirk
To St. Louis: Adam Henrique, 2018 First Round Pick, 2017 Third Round Pick (conditional pick awarded if Shattenkirk re-signs in NJ)
Reasoning: Shattenkirk is a pending UFA, but he is one of the better offensive defensemen in the league, and he is a power play specialist. Given how the Blues are in a playoff position in a relatively weak conference, it will take a lot for them to give Shattenkirk up mid-season as they stand a pretty good chance at making it at least to the Western Conference Final. They would definitely want a capable NHL player and a top draft pick in return since they may be significant dropping their odds at winning the Stanley Cup this year by trading Shattenkirk. I know many fans won’t like the idea of trading Henrique, but many Devils fans want Shattenkirk. You have to give to get, and this is likely what it would take for the Blues to deal one of their top defenseman mid-season, and I’m being generous to the Devils with this offer. Realistically, the Blues would likely want a NHL-ready player, a prospect and a first rounder. It’s also my expectation that Shattenkirk will not be moved by the deadline. If he is moved at all, it will be at the draft and it will be just his negotiating rights on the move if the Blues can’t get a deal done before then.
New Jersey Devils & Columbus Blue Jackets
To New Jersey: 2017 Fourth Round Pick
To Columbus: Kyle Quincey
Reasoning: Quincey’s value is far from off the charts, but he does have 54 games of playoff experience under his belt. Seeing as the first-place Blue Jackets do not have any blue liners that have made it past the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, a player like Quincey may be an attractive option for the Blue Jackets if they are looking for a stay-at-home, physical defenseman that has ample playoff experience. Quincey would be a rental for the Blue Jackets at a cheap salary of only $1.25 million, so even if they acquire him and he rides the pine for a lot of games, it may still be a worthwhile investment. If I were Ray Shero, I would pick up the phone and make this offer. A fourth round pick might be a victory for NJ.
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*Salary cap and draft pick information from CapFriendly.com. Details about players from hockeysfuture.com. Playoff odds from SportsClubStats.com. Advanced Statistics from Hockey-Reference.com.