With the trade deadline now just hours away, we wrap up our team-by-team breakdown with an assessment of the New Jersey Devils.
After a surprise run to the playoffs last season, expectations were reasonably high for the Devils coming into the season. However, things have not gone well. Taylor Hall has missed considerable time due to injury while their goaltending has been a major concern. As a result, they will find themselves on the outside looking in at the postseason and will be looking to add some future assets over the coming hours.
24-30-8, eighth in the Metropolitan Division
Deadline Cap Space
$66.264MM in a full-season cap hit, 0/3 used salary cap retention slots, 46/50 contracts per CapFriendly
Upcoming Draft Picks
2019: NJ 1st, NJ 2nd, NSH 2nd, ANA 3rd, DAL 3rd, NJ 4th, NJ 5th, NJ 6th, NJ 7th
2020: NJ 1st, NJ 2nd, NJ 3rd, NJ 4th, NJ 5th, NJ 6th, NJ 7th
Winger Marcus Johansson is another player that has dealt with injury troubles this season but he has been healthy (and quite productive) as of late. Over the past month, he has six goals and six assists in 13 games and accordingly, reports have indicated that there is considerable interest in the 28-year-old. Johansson, a pending unrestricted free agent, carries a cap hit of just under $4.6MM so it wouldn’t be surprising to see the Devils have to retain on his contract in order to maximize their return. He isn’t among the top names available today but as a secondary scorer, he could make an important impact on a contender. TSN’s Darren Dreger reports (Twitter link) that the asking price is a second-round pick.
Pavel Zacha is still just 21 but has yet to live up to his draft billing and even spent some time in the AHL earlier in the year before his waiver exemption ran out. Accordingly, the pending RFA is a potential candidate to move in a swap of players that could benefit from a change of scenery. Veteran winger Drew Stafford is a pending free agent and if there’s any interest in him, he’ll likely be on the move. Winger Stefan Noesen has struggled to stay healthy this season and looks like a potential non-tender candidate with a $1.725MM qualifying offer due in June so it could be a case of moving him for something over potentially losing him for nothing in June.
1) Defense: While the Devils have made moves to upgrade their back end in recent years (such as adding Sami Vatanen and Will Butcher), it’s an area that still needs improvement both in terms of their current roster as well as their future depth. If New Jersey looks to add already-drafted prospects instead of draft picks in their dealings today, expect them to prioritize adding blueline help.
2) Winger Depth: Beyond Hall, Kyle Palmieri, and to a lesser extent Jesper Bratt, there isn’t much firepower on the wing. This is an area that could typically be addressed via free agency but New Jersey hasn’t had a lot of luck in that regard as of late. Accordingly, it wouldn’t be entirely surprising to see them try to address that via the trade route. That may be more of an offseason move but if a buy-low candidate presents itself, it wouldn’t be surprising to see GM Ray Shero look to add here.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.