The New Jersey Devils have been heavily tied to Winnipeg Jets star goalie Connor Hellebuyck. Unfortunately, things seem to have hit a snag in terms of trade talks. The Devils don’t necessarily need a superstar in net. The Vegas Golden Knights did just win the Stanley Cup with Adin Hill, and the Colorado Avalanche did it last year with Darcy Kuemper. A good defense can make any goalie look great.
However, the Devils seem like they really are a goalie away from being a complete team. Every position is stacked to the gills with talent. After trading Yegor Sharangovich and a draft pick to the Calgary Flames for Tyler Toffoli, the Devils locked in a really good top six. Of course, Nico Hischier and Jack Hughes are two of the best young centers in the game.
The defense is in a good spot after Fitzgerald traded for Colin Miller. He’s a right-handed defenseman who provides depth if Simon Nemec isn’t ready. Dougie Hamilton and John Marino play opposite games, but it makes this team a matchup nightmare on the right side. The left side is just as stacked with Kevin Bahl, Jonas Siegenthaler, and Luke Hughes.
This Devils roster is one of the best in the NHL. It could absolutely win a Stanley Cup as is. Would that be more of a guarantee if they had Hellebuyck? In the short term, absolutely.
There’s one major problem holding this deal back. Well, it’s probably two. One is the price of the trade. The Winnipeg Jets waited out the Montreal Canadiens on Pierre-Luc Dubois until Los Angeles came off the top rope with an amazing package of prospects and players. That’s what the Jets are waiting for with Hellebuyck.
The Devils and Tom Fitzgerald could overcome that. They have picks and prospects for days. However, what they can’t overcome is the contract ask. Hellebuyck is reportedly asking for something similar to Andrei Vasilevskiy, who makes an average of $9.5 million per season.
Luckily for the Devils, Lou Lamoriello threw his old team a bone. He signed the New York Islanders Ilya Sorokin to an eight-year deal worth $8.25 million per season. There is no way that Hellebuyck can ask for more money than Sorokin. He’s not as good as Sorokin.
Lamoriello did the Devils a favor by setting the supreme goalie market. So, if the Devils do trade for Hellebuyck, they know his realistic ask has to be different now. If he is trying to get an unrealistic contract, he is going to spend this season in Winnipeg and he can have a wake-up call next offseason when nobody hits his price in free agency.