General manager Ray Shero has done it yet again. In the early hours this morning, the New Jersey Devils announced they have traded defenseman Ben Lovejoy to the Dallas Stars for defenseman Connor Carrick and 2019 third-round pick. The official statement from the team can be seen below:
— New Jersey Devils (@NJDevils) February 23, 2019
Lovejoy totaled 190 regular season games in his three-year Devils career. His first year in a Devils uniform he performed terribly. This play resulted in him being unfairly tagged for the next two years of his tenure. After a 43.2 Corsi For (CF%) rating in his first year, the following two he posted a 51.8% and 48.8%, with the latter two being respectable numbers.
Lovejoy was often blamed and ridiculed by fans for his play. However, in most cases, it was unwarranted blame. The pairing of him and Will Butcher, even though they weren’t usually put in high danger situations, was one of the best the Devils had. Lovejoy was a respectable bottom-pairing defenseman and we wish him the best in his endeavors with the Stars.
Seeing defenseman Connor Carrick in this deal was a pleasant surprise. The 24-year-old is currently on a $1,100,000 deal which is set to expire at the end of this season. He’ll be a restricted free agent at year’s end and has totaled 34 points in his 181-game career, playing with the Capitals, Maple Leafs, and Stars.
Examining his underlying numbers paints a pretty nice picture. Carrick owns a career 51.5 CF% rating, which is above average. Above is a chart courtesy of CJ Turtoro which shows some important defensive advanced statistics. Via that chart, you can see that Carrick ranks in the 84th percentile in generating shot attempts. This is a welcomed upgrade over Lovejoy and certainly adds a little more of an offensive aspect to the Devils defensive core. Carrick also has done a pretty good job of exiting the defensive zone, evident by ranking in the 60th percentile in zone exits. All-in-all, it seems like Carrick’s ceiling is a borderline top-four defenseman. However, expect for him to serve as a very solid bottom pairing guy for the Devils in the future.
Overall, this trade is another very nice move by Shero. He traded an aging defenseman on an expiring deal for a great asset in a third-round pick, as well as a defenseman with some nice potential. If you were to compare Carrick to Lovejoy, you can describe him as a slightly better younger player. It would be wise to keep in mind that Lovejoy did play almost 18 minutes a night, while Carrick barely played 13 minutes a night.
One thing worth keeping an eye on, however, is Carrick has struggled a bit this season. He has been in and out of the Dallas lineup and has only played 14 games. In those games, he owns a 49.2 CF% rating, which is not terrible, but his -3.1 Relative CF% is a little worrisome. This basically means whenever Carrick was on the ice for the Stars this season, they had a more positive impact with him off the ice. Carrick is a young defenseman who has already experienced some success so I would not look too much into his struggles. All-in-all a great move by the Devils.