Anyone watching the current chaos on the New York Stock Exchange knows that there are bull markets and bear markets.
For the New Jersey Devils, the NHL trade deadline came and went on February 24th and there were no bulls or bears, just an open marketplace and the Devils made little impact on that open market.
The Devils interim general manager Tom Fitzgerald made exactly five trade moves during the final week of the open trade deadline and none of these moves were earth-shattering for the Devils or their trading partners.
As earlier reported, Blake Coleman and Andy Greene were the first players to exit from Newark and head to their new teams with Coleman now in the playoff picture with the Tampa Bay Lightning and Greene staying in the New York metro area by moving over to Long Island with the Islanders. Another name that floated around as a possible trade was Kyle Palmieri but the Devils never had serious plans to trade Palmieri nor did other NHL teams offer any “too good to pass up” offers for him as well.
Fitzgerald has a sense of confidence that Palmieri will quickly fill in as a team leader now that long time captain Andy Greene is gone and will be a good fit to groom the Devils youth movement in the form of Mackenzie Blackwood, Jack Hughes, and Nico Hischier.
He (Palmieri) fits into what we want to do as an organization going forward, and help continue to grow Nico, grow Jack and grow the other young prospects that we feel we can come up and contribute . . .So with that being said, I told teams that you need to come in and blow my socks off. No one did. So I think everybody knew exactly how I felt about Kyle Palmieri, and I felt that I wasn’t going to be bullied to move him.” – Tom Fitzgerald, NJ.com.
Other Devils who came and exited during the trade deadline were Sami Vatanen, Wayne Simmonds, and Louis Domingue. Vatanen’s trade was also anticipated and he was sent to the Carolina Hurricanes for a conditional third or fourth-round pick this year depending on both his health and the playoff standing of the Hurricanes. Vatanen has been on injured reserve since blocking a shot of February 1st and his ability to return and play for Carolina will determine which draft pick level the Devils will receive.
The Wayne Simmonds trade sent him to the Buffalo Sabres in exchange for a fifth-round pick or a move up to the fourth round if the Sabres somehow pull off a wild card playoff spot. Part of Simmonds’ original contract with the Devils included an 8 team no-trade clause and Simmonds himself had to waive that clause in order to be traded and have a shot at the playoffs with a team in the hunt. Simmonds has moved from Philadelphia to Nashville to New Jersey and now on to Buffalo which seemingly confirms his rental player status at this point in his career. However, Simmonds was well respected in the locker room and his leadership was visible and other players such as Kyle Palmieri are quickly going to have to fill in that leadership void to finish out the season and lead into next year.
A final trade at the deadline sent goalie Louis Domingue to Vancouver in exchange for fellow goalie Zane McIntyre. This trade amounts to little more than an exchange of minor league goaltenders as Domingue had been sent down to Binghamton while McIntyre was in Utica as the Vancouver AHL affiliate. McIntrye has had a poor season in Vancouver and was a bargain trade for the Devils while Domingue may get a shot at playing in Vancouver.
Overall, the Devils trading strategy looked more like street-sweeping than building a future dynasty. The Devils were forced to retain a portion of both Simmonds and Vatanen’s salaries in order to facilitate their trade to the Sabres and Hurricanes respectively with unknown returns on these trades due to their linking to the upcoming NHL Draft. The glaring accomplishment of the trade moves comes in salary cap space which the Devils just cleared $9.1 million for this season and have over $27 million in space already available for next season.
In all reality, the NHL trade deadline brought the Devils the opportunity to have a fire sale and move out three players who have had little impact on the Devils organization, save a good deal of cash and build up on draft picks in preparation for next season.
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