For the last month, both the Vancouver Canucks and New Jersey Devils have been rumored to have interest in each other’s players. Pavel Zacha, Brock Boeser, and Conor Garland have all been rumored to be possible targets if a trade does happen between the two teams. Around this time of year, the Devils have been sellers, but they may be dabbling in buying and selling this year at the trade deadline.

Pavel Zacha

Outside of the last year’s covid season, Pavel Zacha has struggled mightily in his Devils tenure. A former 6th overall pick in a loaded draft class, the 24-year-old has yet to figure it out. After leading the team in points last season, many expected Zacha to continue improving. However, his past struggles have snuck back this season. The flashes have been there, but the consistency and willingness to give 110% each shift haven’t.

Vancouver’s already set with their first two centers in Horvat and Petterson, but after that, the depth isn’t there. Although Zacha has performed better as a winger in his career, the Canucks are interested in bringing him and finding that new gear.

Zacha is on an expiring contract and is set to be a restricted free agent at the season’s end. If the Canucks decide to trade for him, they’ll be able to give him a qualifying offer or gain some sort of compensation if he decides to leave. Same with the Devils if he ends up staying.

If the Devils move Zacha by himself, they’ll be able to get a second or a third for him, but they’d be better off packaging him in a deal for either Garland or Boeser. They could move him to Washington, who also has expressed interest in him because of their lack of center depth.

Brock Boeser

According to Frank Seravalli, the Devils have been interested in acquiring Boeser from the Canucks for the last few years, and still remain interested.

Boeser is the same age as Zacha and went seventeen picks after him. Now, seven years later, the two may be packaged in a deal for one another. Boeser, a winger, has been a much better player than Zacha throughout his career, which is why the Devils will need to add a piece or two more if they want Boeser.

In three of his four seasons, Boeser has scored over 20 goals and is on pace to do that again this season. He’s also never finished under the 45-point plateau in his career, unlike Zacha, who has got to 30 only twice in five years.

Boeser would not only fit perfectly alongside either Nico or Jack, but he’d instantly be the Devils’ best goal scorer.

Conor Garland

The 25-year-old goal-scoring winger who was traded to the Canucks this offseason from Arizona has 29 points in 46 games. Garland would bring goalscoring to a Devils team that badly needs it. They also need size, physicality, and strength, and a 5’10-, and 165-pound Garland would only worsen the problem.

On the other hand, Boeser is 6’1, 201 pounds, and is also a better player than Garland in almost every category. The Devils have had just three players score 30 goals in the last decade, and they’ve ranked near the bottom in goals per game since then. They need one of the two, preferably Boeser, but it depends on the cost. There is no way the Devils move a 1st, Holtz, or Hughes for either of them or if they do, I’ll retire from being a Devils fan.

Look Ahead to Next Week

The trade deadline isn’t until March 21st, meaning a trade likely won’t happen for a few more weeks. As for actual games, the Devils will play their first one in nine days on Thursday when they’ll take on the Penguins in Pittsburgh. The Devils are expected to have both Jesper Bratt and Dougie Hamilton back in the lineup for that game. As for the goaltending situation, it remains the same, being Daws and Gillies. They’ll then travel to Chicago for a back-to-back game on Friday night.

Photo: Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

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