Are The New Jersey Devils Done Trading?


Now that the Jaromir Jagr trade is officially completed and he has taken his talents to South Florida, are the New Jersey Devils done dealing? I agree with my fellow writers here at Pucks & Pitchforks and in the other hockey media outlets in that I do not think the team is done making roster moves yet.

Jagr was the most likely candidate to be traded from this roster, and as my colleague David Berger wrote earlier this afternoon, New Jersey got a good return on that trade. I disagree with other fans who think that the Devils could have received a first round pick for Jagr, that was not going to happen for a 43 year old player.

Nov 18, 2014; Winnipeg, Manitoba, CAN; Winnipeg Jets forward Mathieu Perreault (85) battles New Jersey Devils forward Michael Ryder (17) during the second period at MTS Centre. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Fedyck-USA TODAY Sports

The question now becomes: who is going to be moved next as the calendar moves closer to the trade deadline on Monday. In my view, the most likely candidate is not Marek Zidlicky (though I still think he could get traded) I actually think that the Devils will look to package some players together so that they can move Michael Ryder.

“Ryding” Into Sunset

My rationale behind the move of Ryder off of the roster is not a revolutionary idea by any stretch of the mind, he has been used sparingly recently, I fact until his appearance in the recent game against the Chicago Blackhawks he had not appeared in a game in almost a full month. He has just 6 goals this season with a plus/minus of -2 and is averaging just about 14 minutes of ice time per game.

Ryder has not played much this season, especially recently, so that is the reasoning behind my feeling that the team will need to package him with other players in order to move him for some fair market value return package from another team. The move for Ryder could make sense for a “bubble team” on the cusp of the playoffs looking to add a veteran forward. It would help the Devils continue a move toward the youth movement that I think we as fans have to be prepared to fully embrace at this point.

Who should the Devils package with Ryder? I think either Steve Bernier or Stephen Gionta. I know it sounds like a wild idea to trade Bernier because he has been playing so well this season particularly after the coaching change, but I look at it as “selling high” on Bernier. He has outperformed the expectations many player personnel guys had for him this season which translates into a scenario where his value has never been higher. The Devils could get a nice return for Bernier if they moved him at this point, and it would open up a spot for one of their young forwards to get some valuable NHL level experience down this last stretch of games.

The move of Gionta is also a possibility because it would open up a fourth line spot for a Reid Boucher type of player to come up and get some playing time. Gionta also has a fairly reasonable contract at around $560K per year. He has been hurt so it would be a case of probably “selling low” but he is not expected to be a scoring contributor on a team anyway, he is an intangibles guy, so that could be a workable situation.

More Possibilities

More from Pucks and Pitchforks

I also think that the Devils will try to move both Zidlicky and Dainius Zubrus prior to the deadline. The case for the trade of each player is much different. Zidlicky is the type of two-way defensive player that teams on the playoff bubble would be interested in obtaining. His skill set is not readily attainable on the open market at this point, which means that New Jersey probably will net a good return of needed assets for him. The trade of Zidlicky also has the ancillary benefit of opening up ice time for a young defenseman such as Eric Gelinas, who has been frustrated by a lack of playing time.

The potential move of Zubrus is a little more unlikely because the market for him may not be there at this point, and the Devils front office tends to shy away from making rash decisions on trades. I like Zubrus a lot and I appreciate what he has done for the team over his career but I think he could benefit from a change of scenery at this point. Will a playoff contending team think that Zubrus could contribute? You would be surprised some of the desperate moves some teams are willing to make to get their team into the playoffs, so it just might happen.

Please keep checking in at Pucks & Pitchforks for the latest Devils news at the trade deadline.

(Statistics courtesy of