The New Jersey Devils have played enough games now since the NHL trade deadline that I was thinking during a recent game: if the front office could revisit the trade deadline would they have been more active?
This roster has certainly shown in their performance that some changes could have been potentially beneficial to this team. The defensive struggles of this New Jersey hockey club have been detrimental in the past few weeks, causing the team to lose some games that they otherwise played very well. The defense certainly could have used a boost from outside the organization.
The two reasons why that may not have been addressed at the trade deadline are:
- The Devils believe that they have good young defensive players who will be ready to take on larger roles with the team next season.
- The other teams may have asked for too many assets in return for a potential trade of a top notch defenseman at the trade deadline.
However, I still have a hard time believing that the Devils could not obtain a veteran blue liner such as Nick Schultz, who was traded for a 5th round pick on the day of the trade deadline.
The Vanek Situation
The most puzzling trade was the New York Islanders trade of Thomas Vanek to the Montreal Canadiens for a draft pick. I could not believe that the Islanders could not get more in return for Vanek, and I was also curious about whether the Devils could have obtained him.
Montreal gave up very little to get Vanek, a proven goal scorer and offensive catalyst. The Devils certainly could have used a player like him on their roster, and with Vanek rejecting the long term deals offered by the Islanders, every team knew that they had leverage to obtain Vanek, who is in the last weeks of his contract. If they did not trade him, he would have left Long Island at the end of this season as a free agent, and the Islanders would have received nothing in return.
Now it is feasible that the Devils inquired about Vanek and were not interested in acquiring a “rental” player that they would have had for about 6 weeks and would have lost via free agency as well. The Devils are trying to build chemistry and continuity with their roster and they tend to shy away from deals like the one for Vanek, unless they knew they could lock him up in a long term deal.
Nevertheless, the Devils should have taken a run at obtaining Thomas Vanek, he is a unique offensive player who is in the prime of his career, and the opportunity to add a player of that caliber does not come along too often.
The Brodeur Situation
The trade deadline was rampant with speculation that Martin Brodeur was going to be dealt to another team, and the deadline came and went with the legendary goaltender going nowhere, and the rumors were proven to be just that, rumors.
The theories about Brodeur’s exit from New Jersey seemed to dominate the story for the Devils at the trade deadline, where I thought the focus should have been on whether the Devils could swing a deal to add a dynamic scoring player.
The rumors surrounding Brodeur seemed to overshadow a team which needed help at other positions. I am relieved that Marty is still a member of the Devils, and I think it provides our goaltending situation with a lot of strength moving down the stretch of this season.
The Devils front office talked about being “buyers” at the trade deadline, and they did not follow through on that statement. Other than the deal for Tuomo Ruutu they did not make any other trades, and the jury is still out on the Ruutu acquisition.
In the games since the deadline, New Jersey has failed to protect the lead in games by allowing goals as a direct result of poor defensive play. The Devils have also struggled to score goals consistently at some points since the deadline, and they probably would have benefitted from the acquisition of a winger such as Matt Moulson or Ales Hemsky.
In the social media interactions I had at that point in the season, many Devils fans seem to think that a deal for Hemsky was definitely possible. I do not know why he did not land in New Jersey, and we are left to assume that the Devils did their due diligence and determined that it was not a good fit.
In the case of Moulson, the former Islander, the Devils could have pitched him on returning to the New York metro area, where he enjoyed living and playing in during his stint out on Long Island. He would have been a dynamic addition to the roster.
The stretch run of the regular season is now upon us, and we have to support the players who are on this roster currently, and this team does have a great deal of talent. I have written previously about the resilience of this team, which I feel is a great characteristic that cannot be coached, it is built by team chemistry.
Overall, if the Devils played consistently in all phases of the game at the same time, I think this team would see great results. The players deserve our support, but as a fan, I cannot help thinking about moves that could improve our team. I know at this point we will have to wait for the offseason for those transactions to take place.
I would love to know your thoughts, Devils Army, could the Devils have made one of these trades, or some other move to improve the roster?
New Jersey can finish their remaining games with a strong push as long as they limit turning over possession of the puck in the neutral zone, tighten up their defense, and shoot the puck with greater accuracy.
(Background information provided by SI.com)