New Jersey Devils Trade Partners: Dealing with St. Louis


After spending some time in Columbus, Ohio, speculating whether or not the Blue Jackets and New Jersey Devils matched up as potential trade partners, it is time for the next destination on my tour. This time, I am heading to St. Louis, Missouri to meet with an old friend. Perhaps you’ve heard of him?

That friend of course, is former New Jersey Devils goalie and current St. Louis Blues assistant GM Martin Brodeur. After an iconic career with the Devils, Brodeur elected to keep playing with the St. Louis Blues. However, it only took seven games of mediocre play for Marty to realize that he could no longer perform at a high level and he shortly thereafter retired from the game.

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At first, Brodeur took a temporary job with the Blues’ front office and expressed a desire to return to New Jersey one day. That plan took a hit once Lou Lamoriello stepped down as GM and eventually left the Devils all together. With no familiarity with the Devils’ current front office, Brodeur elected to stay in St. Louis as an assistant GM.

Since Brodeur was hired in St. Louis, the Blues have signed former Devils defenseman Peter Harrold and invited forward Scott Gomez to training camp on a tryout. With a couple of former Devils now in St. Louis, could it be possible that Marty advises Blues GM Doug Armstrong to call his former team of twenty years for more?

Last year was the same old song and dance for the St. Louis Blues. A dominating regular season followed by an early exit from the Stanley Cup playoffs despite being picked by many yet again to run the show. Before they can win the cup, they first need to figure out how to get out of the first round.

This offseason, the Blues biggest move was trading forward T.J. Oshie to the Washington Capitals for Troy Brouwer. They also re-signed star forward Vladimir Tarasenko to a long-term deal. While they will look to compete again this season, it will be tough considering that other teams in the Western Conference are getting stronger.

With this potentially being a make-or-break year for St. Louis, could they look to start rebuilding if this season begins to go south? And could a forward starved team like the Devils come calling if that happens? That appears to be more likely than making a deal before the season begins.

The Blues still have a talented roster that can be competitive this season. In addition to Tarasenko and Brouwer, this team has a good forward group which includes David Backes, Alexander Steen, Paul Stastny, and Jaden Schwartz. In net, St. Louis will again roll with the good but unspectacular tandem of Jake Allen and Brian Elliot.

On defense, St. Louis has two of the best blue-liners in the game in Alex Pietrangelo and Kevin Shattenkirk. Veteran Jay Bouwmeester is still a very good defenseman as well. Behind those three however, is not much depth. Carl Gunnarsson will likely be a part of that group, but the last two remain a mystery.

If the upcoming season heads south for the Blues, they will likely begin a rebuild and deal away their veteran players, while holding on to young, talented players like Tarasenko, Schwartz, Shattenkirk, and Pietrangelo. While Ray Shero wants the Devils to get younger, a seasoned, prime veteran would be good to have in the mix.

Shero would likely want a veteran forward who can play in the top-six, but who is also a good leader and can mentor younger forwards such as Pavel Zacha. With that being said, the best fit for the Devils from the St. Louis Blues would be their captain David Backes.

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While veterans like Steen or Stastny could also make sense, Backes, 31, seems like the most logical fit. A free agent after 2015-16, Backes is a great two-way player who can play both center and wing. He is an established goal scoring power forward, which is something the Devils have not had since Brendan Shanahan left.

Backes would also provide the Devils with that grittiness that they have been missing since David Clarkson left. Luckily, he also would not come with Ryane Clowe‘s long history of concussions. Above all else, Backes is an excellent leader and would be a great presence in the Devils’ locker room.

Now what would it take for Ray Shero and Doug Armstrong to agree on a trade for David Backes? Remember that his impending free agency will lower his value a bit, so the Devils would not have to give up a king’s ransom for him.

As with my other stops, Eric Gelinas, Jonathon Merrill, or Steve Santini seem like the jump-off point for a deal. One of those three, in addition to a prospect like John Quenneville, and a higher end draft pick could get a deal done, but again, that would be up to Shero and Armstrong.

Though a player like David Backes would be a great fit for the Devils, it seems unlikely that the two teams will make a deal. Backes’ impending free agency will likely impede Shero from dealing away assets for a rental. The Blues would more than likely trade him, along with other veterans, to desperate playoff contenders.

Rather than trading away talent, the Devils could always wait until July and attempt to sign Backes in free agency. They could also call about under contract veterans like Steen or Stastny, but that remains to be seen.

Although there is a strong connection between the two teams because of Martin Brodeur, they really do not match up well as trade partners, given that neither team has what the other needs. The Blues need for defense is not that severe, while the Devils have not yet shown interest in older veteran forwards for their rebuild.

What do you think about this stop on the tour? Could the Devils and Blues be suitable trade partners? Is there a player not named Tarasenko or Schwartz that would be a better fit than David Backes? Feel free to discuss your thoughts in the comments section below.

Next: New Jersey Devils Trade Partners: Dealing with Columbus

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