The New Jersey Devils‘ 2023 NHL Trade Deadline push is coming up rather quickly. The team should explore taking on a finisher like Andrey Kuzmenko who is on a one-year deal. He has been scoring like a madman on a very underwhelming Vancouver Canucks roster. Tom Fitzgerald should explore getting the Canucks sniper who knows how to capitalize on the power play and would benefit from Andrew Brunette and Sergei Brylin coaching him.
The Devils will not have to overpay for Kuzmenko. He has proven to be a phenomenal winger since leaving the KHL. Alexander Holtz has been underperforming in the NHL and is taking longer to become that finisher in the Devils lineup maybe stay in NJ a bit longer. New Jersey can extend Jesper Bratt, acquire a Max Domi from Chicago and help add some extra grit and more pop on the offense.
Domi would add that blend of knack and physicality that will make the Devils harder to play against. If the Devils end up getting Timo Meier, it is (just a hunch) due to moving a 2023 1st, 2023 2nd, Damon Severson, and maybe Alexander Holtz. It would likely involve a contract extension for Timo Meier for the deal to be made by all parties.
Tom Fitzgerald could trade Mackenzie Blackwood for Karel Vejmelka, who has outperformed the goaltending role in Arizona. Vejemelka is also a fellow Czech countryman who would bring some on and off-ice chemistry with Vitek Vanecek in the net most of the time.
This kind of depth in net will allow the Devils not to rush Schmid or Daws and let them develop in Utica a little longer. You don’t want to rely so much on Vanecek, but having a stud in Vejmelka around only helps make it harder for opponents to beat.
Adding a depth defenseman should be another key position the New Jersey Devils could add some physicality and presence. Perhaps taking a good look at St. Louis and adding a very beefy hard-hitting defender and shot suppressor in Niko Mikkola could be the right move.
That guy is not an analytics darling but has a very proven track record of being a tough customer and making it harder for opponents to score. He is one of the top hits and blocked shots leaders for the St. Louis Blues this season, and Tom Fitzgerald would be wise to get him to push the Devils closer to playoff hockey. Heck, even Sidney Crosby, the greatest hockey player in today’s era, isn’t off-limits for getting in a scrum with Mikkola. This is the kind of guy that’ll ruffle opponents’ feathers in the back end of the 82-game season and get ready for a nice playoff push.