It’s pretty clear that the New Jersey Devils plan to do anything and everything feasible to be competitive next season. That reportedly once includes trading away their first-round pick in the right deal. Those reports came out before the Devils won the second-overall pick and the possibility of drafting Juraj Slafkovsky. If the right deal came along, who knows what might happen. However, the Devils might try to push teams to some of their top prospects instead of the draft pick.
We’ve always assumed some of the Devils’ prospects are off-limits. Although, we tend to use that term way too often. We might think intangible players are untouchable. We’ve probably said players like Miles Wood and Michael McLeod are untouchable, but that’s just not true. Most players can be traded.
When listing the “untouchable” prospects, the first ones that come off the tongue are Luke Hughes and Alexander Holtz. They have two other first-round picks in Shakir Mukhamadullin and Chase Stillman. They don’t seem to hold the same weight with the fanbase as Hughes and Holtz. That’s because they were taken in the top ten and the others can in the 20s.
There are other prospects with interesting upsides like Arseni Gritsyuk, Graeme Clarke, Samu Salminen, and Tyce Thompson who have insane upsides that haven’t been reached yet. Trading them now might hurt because they could all turn into legitimate NHL players in the future. They also don’t hold enough value to get something much better in return.
When we are actually talking about untouchable prospects, there aren’t many who fall under that distinction. After Dawson Mercer made the NHL last season, it gave them an immediate core to build around. Jack Hughes, Nico Hischier, Jesper Bratt, Yegor Sharangovich, and Mercer are fabulous core. If the Devils already have that in place, they can afford to trade most of their prospects and still be in good shape.
Luke Hughes is the one player who is not getting touched. The Devils aren’t trading the brother of their star player who they took with the fourth-overall pick and found a way to be even better than we could have hoped at the University of Michigan.
Holtz is a more curious case. He was really good in the AHL this season, but the Utica Comets are on the cusp of a playoff elimination, and Holtz only has one assist in the series so far. In the NHL, Holtz has looked out of place at times. He’s still very young, and he is still a dynamite scorer, but could the Devils consider selling very high on Holtz with another possible scorer coming?
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Mukhamadullin and Gritzyuk are the only other prospects to even consider calling untouchable. The curiosity of those two players is what could keep them out of trade talks. They could be something special, and their value isn’t anywhere near that right now.
It still feels like Luke Hughes is the only untouchable prospect. That doesn’t mean the Devils are shopping the other prospects, but they aren’t hanging up the phone either.