With the New Jersey Devils falling further out of a playoff spot, they’ve started selling off their veteran assets. The team has dealt Vernon Fiddler to the Nashville Predators for a fourth-round pick in 2017. Fiddler was signed this summer for just $1.25MM, but has provided only three points through his first 39 games.
Fiddler will return to the place he began his career, debuting for the Predators back in 2002-03. The Edmonton, Alberta native has played in 857 games total over his long career. Even though he’s never been an offensive dynamo (his career high is 13 goals) Fiddler is a testament to work ethic and defensive prowess. He’s been able to stay relevant in the NHL through strong faceoff play and responsible positioning.
The Devils have now acquired three additional picks for this summer’s draft, adding this to the Bruins’ second-round pick and Avalanche’s third-rounder. They’ll have six picks in the first four rounds this year and next, letting a team that finds itself at the bottom of the Eastern Conference start their rebuild (or perhaps reload).
Remember just last year the Devils had two 30-goal scorers in Adam Henrique and Kyle Palmieri and added Taylor Hall in the offseason. One would think that they wouldn’t have trouble putting the puck in the net, but currently find themselves last in the East in goal scoring (going into tonight’s action). P.A. Parenteau, another upcoming free agent should also be dealt by the deadline, along with Kyle Quincey if they can find a taker.
Nashville will add Fiddler to their depth down the middle that has been questioned at times this year. Likely slotting in on the fourth line, he’ll see time on the penalty kill and in defensive zone starts. Never under 50% in the faceoff dot in a single season, Fiddler is currently winning 52.6% of his draws. Combined with Mike Fisher and Ryan Johansen, who are both excellent faceoff men, the Predators will start with the puck more than not.