New Jersey Devils Must Build On Success In Net, Trade Market

NEWARK, NJ - NOVEMBER 23: Akira Schmid #40 of the New Jersey Devils looks on prior to the game against the Toronto Maple Leafs at the Prudential Center on November 23, 2022 in Newark, New Jersey. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
NEWARK, NJ - NOVEMBER 23: Akira Schmid #40 of the New Jersey Devils looks on prior to the game against the Toronto Maple Leafs at the Prudential Center on November 23, 2022 in Newark, New Jersey. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /

With the addition of Vitek Vanecek over the offseason, Tom Fitzgerald pieced together a mixture of young goalies and experienced netminders. Akira Schmid is looking to make it hard for Mackenzie Blackwood to stay behind Vitek Vanecek despite Thursday’s performance.

The New Jersey Devils having Schmid take an extra season marinating in the AHL has allowed him to look more like a phenomenal version of Jonas Hiller. Schmid has the 6’5″ frame that helps him prevent weak angles and stay in front of pucks sprinkling in his acrobatic saves. His emergence with Nico Daws in the Devils’ depth chart buys plenty of flexibility as Vanecek grows over the next few seasons.

The depth in net gives the Devils time to really evaluate Daws and Schmid and their potential to take over the reins in the net. Prospects like Cole Brady, Jakub Malek, and Tyler Brennan look to pan out over time. Goalies are very hard to develop and take longer than most position players. The Devils could move a piece to help build their team up because they are becoming buyers and contenders.

Team Needs

The Devils’ list of needs includes physical, gritty, point-scoring bottom-six wingers. The Devils need a few skilled and physical guys that will get them over that hurdle as soon as players like Ondrej Palat and Nathan Bastian return to the Devils, where they need to add a few extra pieces to supplement any losses. Recently mentioned an Adam Ruzicka type or even a Max Domi type of player that can mix it up on the bottom six lines.

Lindy Ruff and the company know they have to add another scorer that adds some punch. A team like Calgary or Vancouver in the west can make ideal trade partners. One guy that comes to mind is Andrei Kuzmenko. The Devils have needed to add another sniper and a guy that makes the team more lethal on offense. Kuzmenko would increase the efficiency of the power play and even stronger attacks.

Kuzmenko also goes to the net to tip pucks in and bank them from the side. He’s the team player you would like to have on your team. Kuzmenko is on pace for 34 goals and 72 points in 81 games and is on a contract for under $1 million. Adding him would take pressure off Yegor Sharangovich, Jesper Bratt, and Dawson Mercer if the Devils can get him at the right price.

Another guy that the Devils should look at is Andrew Mangiapane, who is very shifty, creative, and has a strong hockey sense for creating scoring plays. Mangiapane would make the Devils very fluid offensively and in the transition game of puck possession. Mangiapane scored against the Devils and Rangers last year with four goals total in two games on October 25-26 in the 2021-22 season. Both are two-goal games nearing close to two hat tricks.


The New Jersey Devils are in the Top 8 in the Eastern Conference and should not wait until the March 3rd trade deadline to make a move. General Manager Tom Fitzgerald should start cashing in on players like Blackwood and Severson, who have been here for so many years that the Schmid’s, Simon Nemec-type guys are going to replace anyway.

It is time to upgrade and move on from players that aren’t doing so productive in the Devils’ lineup. Time to bring in some new blood and guys that want to help this Devils team win and “swarm it up” again. If the New Jersey Devils are willing to trade and sign for another winger like Timo Meier, it could make a lot of sense. Several things make a Meier trade make sense; from his age, his GM Mike Greer is linked to Tom Fitzgerald in New Jersey and the Switzerland East connection.

The Devils need to have San Jose willing to add more assets like Damon Severson, Jesper Boqvist, and Reilly Walsh as bargaining pieces for Timo Meier. More would obviously be added, but to make the money work, these types of assets will go the other way.

The price can fluctuate, so take this with a grain of salt. But Timo would have to sign an extension for it to all workout, maybe giving New Jersey a decent contract and term. Meanwhile, making room to add Bratt’s extension to help fortify their wingers.

Prove The Haters Wrong

As the Devils took care of the Detroit Red Wings 5-1 Wednesday night with Dougie Hamilton and Jack Hughes capitalizing in key situations, it was a thing of beauty. After that 5-1 win, it seemed that the Devils were starting to shut some critics up, and the Devils need to capitalize on the Rangers’ thinking they built any momentum.

Next. Assessing Devils Trade Options. dark

If Vitek Vanecek goes on to have a big game against the Rangers, expect Jack Hughes, Yegor Sharangovich, and Dawson Mercer to be on the score sheet taking advantage of Igor Shesterkin or Halak. If Ondrej Palat is in the Devils’ lineup, expecting him to yield chaos on the top-nine lines will be harder for the Rangers to defend against, his calling card is silent but deadly clutch scoring when it’s too little too late. If the Devils get more points over the course of this month, the Devils will be able to breathe more easily.