New Jersey Devils Trade Partners: Dealing with Winnipeg


A couple of weeks ago, I discussed whether or not the New Jersey Devils and Toronto Maple Leafs matched up as trade partners, given the strong connection with Lou Lamoriello. The next stop on my possible trade partner tour has taken me west into Winnipeg, Manitoba, where the Jets call home.

For the first time in decades, the Devils have done a complete overhaul of their front office. After the departures of Lamoriello and longtime scouting director David Conte, Ray Shero has brought in many new faces to complete his front office. Among those new faces are Andre Savard and Claude Noel as professional scouts, with the latter being the Winnipeg Jets’ former head coach.

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Claude Noel coached the Jets for three seasons from 2011 to 2014, and was the team’s first head coach since its relocation to Winnipeg from Atlanta. Though he was fired, his past connection with the team is still there and as a pro scout, his main responsibility is scouting other team’s players in both the NHL and AHL.

Given Noel’s connection with Winnipeg, his knowledge of their players, and his new title, he could advise Ray Shero to call the Jets about a possible trade. The big question of course is whether or not a deal is even possible between the two teams.

The Winnipeg Jets took a big step forward last year and qualified for the Stanley Cup playoffs for the first time since 2007, and the first time since relocating. While they enjoyed some success last season, they had a quiet offseason and did not do much to build on the playoff roster that was the eighth seed in the Western Conference.

The Jets biggest concern right now is locking up their captain Andrew Ladd and star defenseman Dustin Byfuglien, who are both eligible for free agency next July. Losing these two players could be a crippling blow to a franchise that has worked so hard to be a contender again. Resigning those two to long-term deals is key if they want to stay relevant.

As always with the Jets, their goaltending is a big question mark. Ondrej Pavelec had a nice season last year, but that was only after he was pressured by the strong early season play of backup Michael Hutchinson. The Jets are not going anywhere anytime soon if these goaltending inconsistencies continue.

Overall, while the Jets could push for a playoff spot again this season, it seems unlikely. Other teams in the Western Conference have done a significant amount of work upgrading their rosters to contend while the Jets sat back and did very little. Could this potential setback lead to them becoming sellers in the near future?

Should the Jets decide to deal in the near future, could the Devils be one of the teams that is interested? It does not seem likely that the Jets will deal prospects or younger players such as Mark Schiefele. Dustin Byfuglien could be a possibility, but only if he were to make the switch back to forward. The player here that makes most sense for New Jersey is forward Andrew Ladd.

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Though he may not fit Ray Shero’s younger mold, a player like Andrew Ladd could be a perfect fit on the Devils. Ladd, 30 in December, is both a talented hockey player in all aspects of the game and a great leader. His presence on the Devils could have a positive impact on the younger players.

While he will not come cheap, acquiring Ladd would not cripple the Devils either. Because his expiring contract, the Jets will not be able to command a premier package of players and draft picks. Think back to the Ilya Kovalchuk trade, when the Devils traded a good, but not great package for a player who is far better than Ladd.

So what would it take for the Devils to get Andrew Ladd? As always with every Devils trade speculation, this one too will include one of New Jersey’s talented young defensemen. A package of Steve Santini, a forward prospect such as Reid Boucher or Graham Black, and a second round draft pick might do the job, but that is up to Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff.

Ultimately, while he would be a great fit, Andrew Ladd seems unlikely for New Jersey. His impending free agency is the main deal breaker here. It would not take a massive package to get him, but Ray Shero might not want to trade future assets for a player who may not re-sign with the Devils.

For those of you saying why Ladd and not Dustin Byfuglien, it is because the latter will cost more in a trade despite his expiring contract, and will be more likely to leave in free agency. While he could easily make the transition back to forward, a team like the Rangers or Flyers will offer him top dollars for his services next summer.

Outside of Ladd and Byfuglien, there is not much else the Devils could look to acquire from Winnipeg. As stated before, the Jets will be reluctant to part with any of their young talent. Blake Wheeler and Bryan Little also seem unlikely because they are under contract and are pivotal members of the Jets’ forward group.

While Claude Noel’s connection wit the Jets could lead to Ray Shero calling Kevin Cheveldayoff, it does not seem that there is a deal to be made here, given the fact that the two teams do not match up that well. The Devils will likely need to look elsewhere for the forward help that they have been seeking this offseason.

Always remember that everything is pure speculation until a deal actually occurs and is officially announced. Although a deal between the New Jersey Devils and the Winnipeg Jets seems unlikely, it is always possible and people will speculate about it given the connections between the two teams. Could you see a possible deal happening between the Devils and Jets? Feel free to give your thoughts in the comments section below.

Next: New Jersey Devils Roster: Position Battles on the First Line

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