It was nice while it lasted, but the Devils’ horrendous goaltending reared its ugly head again and ruined all the fun. Over the past week, the Devils took a trip out to western Canada and lost all three of their games by the score of 6-3.
But who cares? Devils fans know playoffs have been out of the equation for a while now. The important thing is the NHL trade deadline is Monday, and the Devils have all sorts of rumors floating around their players.
Usually, the most popular trade targets every season are those on expiring deals, and the Devils only have a handful. Defenseman P.K. Subban is the most notable of the bunch, followed by Jimmy Vesey, Jon Gillies, and Mason Geertsen. Not the most appetizing bunch for cup-contending teams.
Instead, the interest is circulating around players who have term left on their current deal or will be restricted be free agents by the season’s end.
That group includes Pavel Zacha, Damon Severson, Andreas Johnsson, and MacKenzie Blackwood.
On the rumor front, goaltender Jon Gillies and Mason Geertsen have generated no interest, to no surprise. As for the other six, there’s been buzz about them being moved or staying in the Garden State.
Rumors heard through the grapevine:
P.K. Subban: Up to this point, according to hockey insider Frank Seravalli, the Devils haven’t received any calls on P.K.’s services.
Subban’s having quite the bounce-back year for someone who looked like he was on his way out of the league.
The only problem is Subban carries a nine-million-dollar cap hit, which no team is looking to take on. There is no chance a team takes it in whole, which would force the Devils into retaining half of the deal.
Even then, a third team may need to broker the deal and take on another chunk of Subban’s contract because 4.5 million is still a lot.
I’d imagine the Devils will start to receive some calls on Subban come Monday, but we’ll see if a deal actually occurs.
Jimmy Vesey: The same can be said on the Vesey front. There hasn’t been much buzz for the former Hobey Baker winner.
Unlike Subban, Vesey carries a whopping $800,000 cap hit, which him all but more appealing to teams.
It may be quiet now, but there’s no chance a team doesn’t reach out to general manager Tom Fitzgerald for Vesey’s services.
He’s a bottom-six forward who can kill penalties, adds grit, and can chip in offensively here and there.
I’d be shocked if Vesey remains a Devil past the trade deadline as his play and contract is something cup contenders dream of.
Andreas Johnsson: Johnsson was the most hated man on the Devils roster last season. For the first two months of this season, he seemed destined to prove all Devils fans wrong. Until, of course, he crashed back down to earth.
There’s no telling what Johnsson’s future is with the Devils. He has another year remaining on his deal, but it hasn’t stopped teams from expressing interest in the 27-year-old Swede.
On the Coyotes side, the Devils have already expressed interest in their forward Lawson Crouse. Additionally, the Coyotes goaltender Karel Vejmelka is supposedly up for sale, and the Devils definitely could use a goaltender.
MacKenzie Blackwood: Speaking of goaltenders who are up for sale, Cory Schneider’s protégé has failed to take the next step in his career and, if anything, has significantly declined. It’s been a rough last two years for Blackwood. He started off last season hot, but following a bout with covid, he hadn’t looked like the same goaltender.
And that’s just his on the ice stuff. Off the ice, it has been quite the whirlwind. We had the vaccination dilemma take place this offseason. Then and most notably, he had issues with his heel, which led to him getting late surgery. When the season began, he said it was still bothering him. Regardless, the Devils decided to play him despite knowing he was injured. As a result, he played poorly and now is on injured reserve thanks to, you guessed it, a heel injury.
It doesn’t take an NHL insider to tell you the relationship between him and the Devils’ front office is on rocky terms. But Elliotte Friedman and Frank Seravalli can confirm it.
While Seravalli said, the front office is asking themselves, “When healthy, what are the odds Blackwood’s game rebounds to the level we saw a couple years ago? Or will they find the answer to that question watching him play elsewhere?”
If this season has proven anything, goaltending is kind of important. They’ll be tons of teams in need of a goaltender and will be interested in trying to reinvent Blackwood and get him back to his old self.
Damon Severson: Devils’ twitter seems to be split on what to do with Severson. While he’s been the backbone of the Devils’ blueline for the last four seasons and is enjoying a career year, fans have been calling for a trade. There’s a good chance he doesn’t return after his contract is up next season. Meaning trading him now will get the Devils a huge haul.
Just when you thought it seemed like Severson was as good as gone, Elliotte Friedman threw a curveball, reporting that “Severson wants to stay, and is willing to re-sign.”
We’ll see if this means anything. If I’m Fitzgerald, I’m still fielding calls for Severson, and if an extension can’t be reached by 3:58pm, I trade Severson at 3:59pm.
Severson has a year of control and is in the midst of his best year, take the haul because it’ll be there. Don’t pull a Taylor Hall situation 2.0 and risk going into the season with a valuable lame duck.
Pavel Zacha: While none of these guys are guaranteed to be traded come Monday at 4pm, Zacha has the best odds.
The 24-year-old and former 6th overall’s career never clicked in New Jersey, simple as that. There’s still a great chance he can blossom into a solid top-six guy on another team, but it isn’t happening here.
A trade to Vancouver would most likely give the Devils their best return considering they’re trying to blow everything up.
Next would be the Canadiens. There’s new management there, meaning anyone could go other than Suzuki and Caufield.
As for the Caps, their prospect pool is super week, and their draft picks will all be later.
Subban: I think the contract is too big of a hump for teams to get over, and he stays in New Jersey. Then again, teams love defensemen depth, and a veteran like Subban, who’s been to a cup final, could entice quite a lot of teams. But most of those teams won’t be able to swallow 50% of Subban’s cap hit.
Vesey: I would be shocked if Vesey is a Devil come Tuesday. His playstyle is exactly what cup tending teams look for. I could see the Penguins or Capitals, two teams who could use an upgrade at wing in their bottom six. I also wouldn’t be surprised if the Blues acquired him. Their fourth line could use a proven veteran.
Johnsson: As for someone I’d be shocked to be dealt is Johnsson. He’s got another year left on his deal, and he hasn’t been too impactful since arriving in Jersey. Maybe a bottom-six team like Arizona or Seattle gives him a shot, but a cup contender would be quite the surprise.
Blackwood: This is the hardest one for me. I don’t want the Devils to give up on Blackwood yet. We’ve seen what he can be when healthy, something he hasn’t been for a while. However, a trade wouldn’t shock me between his relationship with the Devils being poor and him getting a new agent. Not to mention, he’d be a top commodity on the goaltending market that would have tons of teams in play, including the Devils.
Severson: For me, it’s simple. If an extension isn’t reached at least a half-hour before the trade deadline, like what we saw with Chris Krieder a few years back, then deal him. The Devils will get a lot in return if they decide to deal him, along with saving cap space that will be used to pay guys like Bratt and Siegenthaler this offseason. However, all that being said, I don’t expect the Devils to move him.
Zacha: I expect the Zacha experiment to end tomorrow. The interest among teams is there, and the Devils can gain a valuable piece if they package Zacha up in a bigger deal. I’d be upset if the Devils decide to trade him for just a pick. No more picks. They need players.
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