Should New Jersey Devils Target These 3 Disgruntled Young Players

Vince Dunn #29 of the St. Louis Blues (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Vince Dunn #29 of the St. Louis Blues (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /
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New Jersey Devils
Vince Dunn #29 of the St. Louis Blues. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images) /

The New Jersey Devils have a predominantly young core and their pipeline is stocked with young talent. If the Devils do eventually part ways with Kyle Palmieri or Nikita Gusev via trade, the assets will continue to stockpile. While Pittsburgh, Washington and Boston are selling out to win now with bare prospect pools, the future of the Devils is looking brighter by the moment. Obviously there will be some bumps along the way, but for now let’s enjoy the ride.

If you look across the NHL, young players like Patrik Laine, Jack Roslovic and Pierre-Luc Dubois have already gotten traded after being disgruntled with their respective teams. There are a few more young players who are looking for a change of scenery in some way, shape or form. Should the Devils look to add these players, or continue to let their own guys grow and develop. Here is a look to see who is available and if the Devils should pursue them.

Vince Dunn

Ty Smith and Damon Severson are two main stays on defense. After that it gets a tad murky. Sami Vatanen and Dmitry Kulikov will be unrestricted free agents at seasons end and don’t figure to long-term fixtures on the team. Ryan Murray is a solid defender and penalty killer but will also be an unrestricted free agent at seasons end. While he has played well enough to be brought back, albeit in a small sample size, betting on sustaining health could damper the oft-injured defenseman’s chances of being re-signed long term. P.K. Subban and little used Will Butcher’s contracts expire at the end of next season and more likely than not won’t be with the team. Kevin Bahl and Reilly Walsh could push to play as soon as the 2021-22 season. Beyond that, the Devils have gaping holes to fill on defense.

I’ve written up Vince Dunn in this space a few times. The good. He has played in 235 career NHL games at 24 years of age, brings an offensive pedigree to the blueline, and fits in perfectly with the core of the team. Now for the not so good. There are holes in his defensive game. So much so that he’s been a healthy scratch this season. If you look at his metrics at face value his numbers are pretty good. His Corsi statistics (55% Corsi For %) show that he is a solid even strength defenseman, where the team creates more chances than not while he is on the ice.

However, he has been somewhat sheltered at this point in his career. For his career he has started in the offensive zone 60% of the time. In this short season he has been in the offensive zone 70% of times!! It is evident that the Blues’ coaching staff still does not trust Dunn if a play needs to start in the defensive end. He is also prone to turnovers, losing puck battles and poor positioning.

Even with his flaws, there is still something to be said what he brings to the table. He is a good skater, has a deceptive shot, and could help anchor a power play. Those are all attributes the Devils could utilize. He still needs to redefine his skillset. His overall defensive ceiling is capped but there is no reason why he can’t be coached up to become a serviceable defenseman. He’d be a nice fit in Lindy Ruff‘s system and could be an ideal trade target.