The entirety of the New Jersey Devils fanbase is usurped in two things right now. One is completely involved in rooting against the New York Rangers. They are in the Eastern Conference Finals, and they were incredibly close to taking a 3-0 lead on the defending champion Tampa Bay Lightning. The other storyline that has our attention is the status of the second-overall pick in the NHL Draft. The Devils won the opportunity to move up from fifth overall to second overall.
There were rumors before the draft lottery win that the Devils were willing to trade their first-round pick to get help right now. The name Kevin Fiala seemed like a likely subject, but the difference between the second overall and fifth-overall pick is immense. Now, Fiala isn’t necessarily worth the risk.
Let’s talk about that word; risk. The Devils are taking a huge risk trading the pick. When a big decision must be made, the best thing to do is to make a “pros and cons” list about it.
Pro: Team Gets Better Now
This is the whole point, right? The Devils are sick and tired of being one of the worst teams in the league. It’s been this way for about a decade. Outside of one season where they needed a ridiculous run at the end of the season and an MVP performance to make the playoffs, the Devils have been a bear to watch every season. Many times, they go into the season with expectations, but they fail to reach them. They are rarely predicted to be one of the worst teams in the league, but often that’s where they find themselves.
The Devils are in desperation mode, especially at the goaltender position. There really isn’t a goalie worth trading the second-overall pick (at least one that is actually available), but there are other players they can use to fill the roster around Jack Hughes and Nico Hischier. The Devils adding a seriously great player with this pick will really help make this team fun to watch next season.
This would be the premise for Tom Fitzgerald to make such a move. He wants to make a bold move to make sure the Devils are competitive next season. The ownership group likely hates the fact that they’ve run an exclusively losing operation. That’s why they cleaned house in the 2019-20 season. To avoid cleaning house next season, the team has to be better.