New Jersey Devils: 5 Players Worth Trading 1st-Round Pick In NHL Draft

Calgary Flames left wing Matthew Tkachuk (19) skates with the puck against the New Jersey Devils during the shoot out period at Scotiabank Saddledome. Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
Calgary Flames left wing Matthew Tkachuk (19) skates with the puck against the New Jersey Devils during the shoot out period at Scotiabank Saddledome. Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports /
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New Jersey Devils general manager Tom Fitzgerald said during his season-ending press conference that he was willing to trade away his first-round pick in the NHL Draft. Then, that pick became second overall. It became a much different conversation. On paper, the difference between a second-overall pick and a fifth-overall pick (the Devils’ original position) should be menial at best. In reality, its value is impossible to really show.

This year, this is especially true. There are five superstar prospects in the NHL Draft. It’s Shane Wright, Juraj Slafkovsky, Simon Nemec, Logan Cooley, and David Jiricek. There are others that analysts will fall in love with, but those seem to be the consensus top five. Now that the Devils have the second-overall pick, they have the pick of whoever isn’t named Shane Wright. Actually, there’s an outside chance they might get to take Wright if the Canadiens somehow fall in love with Slafkovsky.

The New Jersey Devils are reportedly still willing to trade their second-overall pick in the NHL Draft.

This is an incredibly valuable spot for the Devils to be in. Many assumed the Devils were now out on trading the pick away. Then, Elliotte Friedman reported on Saturday that it isn’t the case. He spoke on Saturday Headlines with Sportsnet and said the Devils might actually still move the pick.

"“The information we have is the Devils will still consider it (trading their first-round pick) and are in the process in the next couple of weeks firming up a list of players that they would consider moving that pick for. So it could be interesting at the top of the draft.” Friedman said on Saturday Headlines."

This makes things very interesting. Of course, the original rumors were the Devils were poking around at Kevin Fiala, but this can’t be the player they get with the second-overall pick. He is still a relative risk. They need a guarantee if they are giving away the chance to draft Juraj Slafkovsky. So, who would that guarantee be, exactly? Here are five options.

Side note: we will try to address realistic options. Of course, the Devils would trade this pick for Auston Matthews or Connor McDavid. Neither is going anywhere. These are the options that are crazy, but like in this galaxy crazy.

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

Matthew Tkachuk – Calgary Flames

The Devils desperately need Matthew Tkachuk. He’s the one player that comes in on offense and changes everything. He gives the Devils an edge, he forces the opposition to fight for every inch, and he would make this team an instant playoff contender. Tkachuk is coming off his first 100-point season. Of course, it’s a little worrisome that a player who made sure he had a deal set up to pay him an insane premium in the final year of his contract would be motivated to put up insane points in the final year of this deal.

Let’s talk about that contract because it is the only reason Tkachuk would get moved. He’s still a restricted free agent, and his average annual value is sitting at just $7 million, but it’s his current salary that’s going to throw everything off. The Flames have to give him a $9 million qualifying offer because that’s his pure salary in the last year of his current contract.

Tkachuk is worth that money. He’s just been a superstar in every aspect of the game. Of course, he been close to a point-per-game player for most of his career, and he just exploded this past season. He will likely demand a contract that pays him $9 million per season. He deserves it, and the Devils should give it to him.

Of course, the Devils would have to add on to the second-overall pick to make this deal happen. Also, the Flames are looking to stay in Stanley Cup contention for the foreseeable future. However, they have to choose between Tkachuk and Johnny Gaudreau. Gaudreau is an unrestricted free agent, and he might get a $9 million per season contract of his own. It’s an interesting dilemma, but it might be a tad too unrealistic, so time to move on to others.