New Jersey Devils: Is Now Right Time To Target Tom Wilson?

Washington Capitals right wing Tom Wilson (43) advances the puck against the New Jersey Devils during the first period at Capital One Arena. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports
Washington Capitals right wing Tom Wilson (43) advances the puck against the New Jersey Devils during the first period at Capital One Arena. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports /

The New Jersey Devils want to make a splash at the NHL Trade Deadline. The main target is Timo Meier, but as time passes, it becomes more apparent that the Devils may have to go to Plan B. The Meier conversation has gone in circles through the media. Now, it’s basically Dawson Mercer or bust for the San Jose Sharks. That would be a big ole bust for the Devils.

So, what are the Plan Bs that are out there? Most of them are a far fall from Meier. Brock Boeser is out there, but do the Devils even want him? Patrick Kane is available, but he seems determined to go to the New York Rangers. Ivan Barbeshev could be the next piece to fall in the St. Louis Blues teardown (despite the fact they are in on the Meier sweepstakes).

None of those Plan B options would actually move the needle for the Devils in the Eastern Conference race. The Rangers already added Vladimir Tarasenko, and they could push to add Kane as well. The Rangers and Devils are headed for a first-round matchup despite both trying to overtake the Carolina Hurricanes. If they want to have a real chance to make a run, this might not be a good enough team to do it.

On the other hand, there might be one other piece we haven’t discussed. The Washington Capitals made the surprising move to trade Dmitry Orlov and Garnet Hathaway to the Boston Bruins for draft picks and Craig Smith. Now, the Capitals aren’t going to rebuild completely. They have Alexander Ovechkin on the roster and are only two points out of a playoff spot.

On the other hand, the team lost six games in a row. It’s spiraling, and nothing seems to help the Caps break out of it. Selling now could help them retool in the offseason. Many of the team’s pieces aren’t going anywhere. Obviously, Ovechkin isn’t going anywhere. Niklas Backstrom has too many injury issues to go anywhere. TJ Oshie seems to hold too much weight in the locker room. Darcy Kuemper literally just signed there.

Tom Wilson, on the other hand? Wilson could be available. He’s got one more year after this one, signed at just $5.16 million. That’s a much easier contract to swallow than whatever Meier is going to sign for. On top of that, Wilson is only 28 years old. He isn’t 26 like Meier, but this is still a player with plenty of his prime left.

Next. 5 Most Important Devils Trade Deadline Pieces. dark

Now, let’s talk about the elephant in the room. Wilson has been a dirty player in the past. We’ve been on record saying we don’t want anything to do with his shenanigans. However, his last suspension was in 2021. He hasn’t really had a similar infraction since then. That’s not a ton of time between issues, but hopefully, two years between infractions gave Wilson enough time to understand he doesn’t have to play that way.

Wilson still has snarl, and he could play with a player like Jack Hughes to really up his offensive game. Wilson also has been under the skin of the Rangers in the past, a team the Devils are likely to play in the first round.

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Wilson has a 10-team no-trade clause. He could say no to the Devils. However, the time to get on the Devils is now. Wilson could spend the second half of his career on another winner. Playing with Hughes and Nico Hischier has to be appealing to a player like Wilson. The Devils would have to talk to him and believe his suspensions are behind him. If they come to an understanding, this might be the surprise move that pushes the Devils over the top.