Writer’s Twitter: @ChrisMottHockey
Trade Deadline Review
The New Jersey Devils were active sellers from a couple weeks before the trade deadline to the final minutes leading to the deadline. This article will feature a recap of all the Devils’ trades that have been made and how beneficial they were. Devils fans saw some good players go and we certainly wish them the best of luck with their new respective teams and thank them for all they have done for the organization.
Trade 1: Brian Boyle to the Nashville Predators for a 2019 Second-Round Pick (Feb. 6)
The first trade that the Devils made indicating they would be sellers at the deadline was moving center and fan favorite Brian Boyle to the Nashville Predators for a 2019 second-round pick. The trade truly benefits both sides well as the Devils got great value for Boyle that some may not have even expected to be in the return. For Nashville, the trade was all about trying to position themselves for what will most likely be an inevitable meeting with their division rivals the Winnipeg Jets in the playoffs. Boyle increases their depth down the middle and on the third and fourth lines, as well as another leader for the locker room with plenty of playoff experience. While Devils fans may be sad about the departure of Brian Boyle, they should certainly be happy with the return. The Devils are clearly still rebuilding and need assets for the future.
Grade = A
Trade 2: Ben Lovejoy to the Dallas Stars for Defenseman Connor Carrick and a Third-Round Pick (February 23)
Since the Brian Boyle trade with Nashville, Devils fans were left to speculate for 17 days on where some of the teams most valuable assets may be moved to, or if they would even be moved at all. The silence on the trade front broke through with the Devils moving Ben Lovejoy to the Dallas Stars and the return they got back was not too bad. Lovejoy was never a superstar defenseman or flashy in terms of skill. But he was usually a solid defenseman, even if he was not immune to bad mistakes in his play.
Bottom line though is that Lovejoy has won two Stanley Cups before with the Pittsburgh Penguins and can provide that veteran leadership and experience for Dallas. In exchange for Lovejoy, the Devils picked up a younger experienced defenseman in Connor Carrick, who is only 24 years old, and a third-round pick, both of fit the theme for the returns of this deadline which are future assets. This is another trade where I believe Shero did a great job and was able to get more in return for Lovejoy than at least I expected. Carrick also picked up 2 assists in his Devils debut last night against the Canadiens, showing some of the talent New Jersey got back.
Grade = B+
Trade 3: Keith Kinkaid to the Columbus Blue Jackets for a 2022 Fifth-Round Pick (February 25)
Devils general manager Ray Shero was up very early on trade deadline day when he completed this deal in the early hours of the morning. Kinkaid was on the list of players who may be moved as he is set to become an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season. Kinkaid was a huge part of the Devils run to the playoffs last season when Schneider went down, along with Taylor Hall’s MVP season and what he has done for this team. Kinkaid started out the season well with Schneider still recovering from injury but began to hit a rough patch throughout the season like the team did.
When Mackenzie Blackwood began to outplay him and Schneider started to look good in net, the Devils were left with an extra goalie to move, and Columbus may be a perfect fit for Keith next year if current Blue Jackets goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky leaves in free agency at the end of the summer. The Devils return was not horrible but was not amazing either, a fifth-round pick three years from now. The positive in the pick is that Columbus is clearly in win now mode with all their activity around the deadline. And if things fall apart in three years, that is good news for the Devils and this pick. Also given the fact that the Devils were able to move Kinkaid at all adds to the value of this trade as their really was not any real demand in the market for a goaltender.
Grade = B
Trade 4: Marcus Johansson to the Boston Bruins for a 2019 2nd Round Pick and a 2020 4th Round Pick
The last trade the Devils made that was held up in the bottleneck caused by Ottawa taking their time trading away Mark Stone was the deal to send Marcus Johansson to the Boston Bruins. Johansson was really starting to get his offensive game going to the point where there was a reasonable debate of whether to trade him or sign him to an extension. However, when Stone was dealt to the Vegas Golden Knights by the Ottawa Senators, Johansson was dealt shortly after, and the Devils return for him was good.
Boston gave the Devils a second-round pick in 2019 and a fourth-round pick in 2020, which again ties into the plan of future assets. The only negative for me in this trade is seeing the return other teams got for players of a similar caliber, especially seeing the return the New York Rangers got for Kevin Hayes (forward Brendan Lemieux, a 2019 first-round pick, and a 2020 conditional fourth-round pick from Winnipeg) and Matt Zuccarello (a conditional 2019 second-round pick and conditional 2020 third-round draft pick from Dallas) which really adds a sour taste. Still, the Devils received two picks in return and with time running out at the deadline, this may have been the best offer on the table.
Grade = B+
The Devils had a very good trade deadline this year and maybe one of the better ones they have had for a couple years now. Last year, the Devils were buyers, obtaining players like Michael Grabner and Patrick Maroon en route to an unexpected playoff berth. This year, though, the Devils continued their rebuild by selling some of their best expendable assets. Overall, all the players that could have been moved were traded and the returns were very good for the Devils. They now have 10 draft picks in the upcoming 2019 NHL Entry Draft, with six picks in the first three rounds with one in the first round, three in the second round, and two in the third round. There were times the Devils could have maybe got a little bit more in return, but they still walked away with plenty of assets for this team’s future.