The New Jersey Devils are going big game hunting this offseason. They want superstar players. Tom Fitzgerald wants to get players to build around Jack Hughes and Nico Hischier. He wants to re-sign Jesper Bratt to a long-term deal, and he wants to get them a goaltender that can build on this era of Devils hockey. He wants all of these things, but to get these things will cost assets.
They are going to cost what we like to call “uncomfortable assets”. That means losing Alexander Holtz, Arseni Gritsyuk, or the right to draft Juraj Slafkovsky. Those are great assets for the Devils either in a trade or to develop into something good or great. They have a ton of possibilities. There are other assets like Miles Wood, Pavel Zacha, Michael McLeod, and Fabian Zetterlund who seem to be really good bottom-six players and are incredibly young.
While all those would hurt to lose in any trade, none would give us the feeling of losing someone like Dawson Mercer. Mercer grew into one of the best young players on the team. The former first-round pick made the NHL a year earlier than anyone expected, and he was quite good for a long time.
He finished the season with 42 points despite going on a month-long scoreless streak towards the end of the season. There were times when he was on the best line on the team. His partnership with Jesper Bratt actually got Bratt going in the first place.
That has a lot of other teams bringing up Mercer when talking about these superstar trades. Of course, the Devils aren’t trading him for just anything. However, would they even consider the move in a trade for say Matthew Tkachuk or David Pastrnak?
The Devils have very few untouchables on the roster. One is obviously Jack Hughes. There is nothing worthwhile for the Devils to trade their franchise center. Even if the other team has a “better” player, it doesn’t make sense for the Devils to move on from Hughes. With that said, Luke Hughes is also untouchable. The Michigan Wolverines defenseman beat expectations last season, and he’s your superstar’s younger brother.
The other two untouchables are Nico Hischier and Jesper Bratt. As much as people want to say that Bratt is attainable, he’s not. Dougie Hamilton is probably untouchable. There really isn’t a deal that makes sense for him right now.
Outside of that, Mercer is on the fence. While the Devils would have to be blown away to lose Mercer, could they be blown away? If the Flames made Mercer the centerpiece of a Tkachuk deal, would that push the Devils into saying yes?
It just seems unlikely any team is going to give the Devils anything near what they’d need to even consider trading Mercer. This is a message to everyone on Armchair GM, stop mentioning Mercer. There’s nothing you can offer that would make it happen.