The New Jersey Devils Should Trade for Beau Bennett


The New Jersey Devils need a forward. The New Jersey Devils need scoring help. Devils fans and the team’s front office have been saying since Zach Parise‘s departure to Minnesota and Ilya Kovalchuk‘s untimely retirement.

When Lou Lamoriello was still general manger, he attempted to patch these scoring woes with established, yet less skilled veteran players such as Ryane Clowe, Michael Ryder, Martin Havlat, and Jaromir Jagr. This was obviously not the answer and current Devils general manager Ray Shero knows that.

When Shero took over as GM, he also acknowledged the need for scoring help, but he also knew he could not attempt any more unsuccessful quick fixes. Instead, he wants to do a rebuild and develop a young core of talented forwards and that began with drafting of Pavel Zacha and trading for Kyle Palmieri.

The Devils have a logjam of young, talented defensemen and it has been suggested that they could trade one of them for some forward help. The Devils could have an ideal trading partner with the Pittsburgh Penguins, who have a logjam of their own at forward and a need for defense. One player in particular the Devils should look to acquire is winger Beau Bennett.

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Beau Bennett is a familiar name for Ray Shero and Devils head coach John Hynes, with the former drafting him 20th overall in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft and the latter coaching him at Scranton-Wilkes Barre. A trade for Bennett would make perfect sense considering the strong connections and Shero’s desire to acquire younger players.

Bennett, 23, has had problems with staying healthy up to this point, and when healthy he has often played in a limited bottom six role. This resulted from a combination of inconsistent play and the fact that the Penguins have a very good top six forward group.

The Penguins forward group will be strong with the recently acquired Phil Kessel, Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and many others. There is simply no room for Beau Bennett, who on paper, appears to be the odd man out right now behind established veterans David Perron, Patric Hornqvist, Chris Kunitz, and Pascal Dupuis.

Though he has not fully lived up to the hype that made him a top pick, Bennett is still a very talented player. If he can stay healthy, he has the ability to play in all situations of the game while possessing the potential of being an offensive force. A player of his talent would be a key piece for Ray Shero’s rebuild.

A change of scenery would be good for Bennett. A rebuilding team like the Devils could give him the opportunity to play in a top six role every night and become the player he was drafted to be. He would also be playing in a familiar coaching scheme under John Hynes.

So what would be a good trade for both teams if the Devils were to acquire Beau Bennett? As stated earlier, the Penguins have a need for defense, so a deal that makes the most sense for both teams would be a straight up swap for Devils defenseman Jon Merrill.

Like Bennett, Jon Merrill is very talented too, but has had struggles of his own early in his career. After a promising rookie campaign, Merrill struggled to play consistently in his sophomore season. Despite this, Merrill is still has the talent and skill to be a regular top-4 defenseman in the NHL.

After losing Brooks Orpik, Matt Niskanen, Paul Martin, and Christian Ehrhoff in the past year, the Penguins do not have much defensive depth behind Kris Letang. Jon Merrill fills an immediate need as a defenseman with a good amount of NHL experience.

Jon Merrill still has one season remaining on the entry-level contract that he signed with the Devils, which is perfect for the Penguins, who are currently low on salary cap space. They will acquire a young, talented defenseman who will likely be cheap and under team control for the next few years.

Merrill will also join the Penguins young core of talented defensemen with Olli Maatta and Derrick Pouliot. Even if they trade Kris Letang in the coming seasons for cap relief, they will still have a talented group who will grow together and be successful behind their elite forwards.

This is a win-win deal for both teams. The Devils get their forward, the Penguins get their defenseman, and both players get a fresh start and a chance to succeed on a new team. What do you think? Would you trade Jon Merrill for Beau Bennett? Please give your thoughts in the comments section below.

Next: Pavel Zacha's Role Model

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