Should New Jersey Devils Trade 2nd pick For Matthew Tkachuk?

Calgary Flames left wing Matthew Tkachuk (19): Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
Calgary Flames left wing Matthew Tkachuk (19): Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports /

If the New Jersey Devils really are “just a goalie away from being competitive,” why not get someone that can help you win now instead of someone who won’t play in the NHL for a few years?

On Tuesday night, the Devils’ losing once again paid off as they jumped from the fifth pick to the second pick, thanks to the NHL Draft Lottery. The Devils sit on deck, and with Shane Wright being the consensus 1st overall selection, they’ll have the whole pool to choose from.

Tons of mock drafts have the Devils slotted to take Juraj Slafkovsky, a massive winger with an elite offensive upside. The Devils need wingers, and they need size; Slafkovsky offers both. However, there’s no telling when he’ll play in the NHL or produce at an elite NHL level, if ever.

There’s been a lot of rumors surrounding the Devils’ first-round selection on whether it’d be moved or not, but that was when it was projected to be the 5th-overall pick. Now, the Devils sit 2nd and have a choice to make. Do they trade the pick for proven elite talent, or take the gamble and hope to cash in on a generational power forward?

There’s only one player worth considering a trade of the 1st round pick, and that’s Matthew Tkachuk.

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The 24 year old is everything the Devils would hope for out of Slafkovsky, and then some. Tkachuk, a winger, is coming off a 104-point campaign that saw him burry 42 goals. Tkachuk plays with the heart and grit of a fourth-line goon but brings All-Star talent.

Slafkovsky is everything the Devils need, but Tkachuk also meets that bill. He brings much-needed physicality and is a proven elite talent. This season, Tkachuk was on the best line in hockey with Johnny Gaudreau and Elias Lindholm. Being paired with the two, especially Gaudreau, allowed Tkachuck to eclipse career highs in every offensive category.

He’d come close twice, but he’s never been a point-per-game scorer in his career until the explosion this season. Some fans may worry about this season being a one-hit-wonder, or he was carried by Gaudreau, and for good reason. However, the same concern remains with Slafkovsky, a player who’s obviously never even stepped foot on NHL ice. The risk is there for both but undoubtedly larger with Slafkovsky.

As for the Gaudreau nonsense, even if that were the case, there’s a guy in New Jersey by the name of Jack Hughes, who plays an awful lot like Gaudreau, so I don’t think there’d be any moving pains.
The issue is, Matthew Tkachuk is an impending Restricted Free Agent, meaning he’s going to get paid this summer. The question becomes, do the Devils have enough money to cough up long-term deals to him and Bratt?

According to Cap Friendly, the Devils have a little $25 million in cap space freed up this summer. I’m not saying offer both him and Bratt 10×10 deals, but there’s enough money to go around. Besides, if the Rangers can have five guys on long-term deals, the Devils can too.

New Jersey Devils Defensive Grades. dark. Next

Your guess is as good as mine on what the Devils will decide to do with the pick. They’ll probably keep it and draft Slafkovsky, considering trades in the top 10 don’t happen, and trades inside the top three are as likely as the Devils making the playoffs.

In the past 35 years, only ten trades had occurred in the top ten, the last one being when the Devils traded their 9th overall selection for Cory Schneider. Furthermore, only twice, not including the madness swaps involved in the Sedin trades, have there been trades inside the top three, and both were the second selection. The trade doesn’t have to be a one-for-one deal, maybe they can acquire a few additional picks, but Tkachuk is everything the Devils could hope for out of a 2nd-overall choice.