The New Jersey Devils are in a bad spot. A lot is going wrong at the same time, and it's at a time of desperation. The Devils are now six points out of the final Wild Card spot and eight points away from the Philadelphia Flyers with three games in hand. With four games this week, they could be completely out of the playoff race by week's end or right back in the thick of things.
The unfortunate issue is the Devils have issues that cannot be addressed in the room. Despite Jack Hughes' return, the Devils cannot score. It's especially bad on the power play. The defense has major issues after Jonas Siegenthaler and Dougie Hamilton suffered major injuries. It's being led by rookies Luke Hughes and Simon Nemec.
Of course, the biggest issue on the Devils is goaltending. Despite getting through all of regulation without allowing a goal on Saturday night, Vitek Vanecek is still one of the worst goalies in the league. While his defense has given up a decent amount of high-danger chances, it really isn't as excessive as it seems. He's faced 7.75 HD shots per 60 minutes. Fifty-five goalies have faced a higher rate of dangerous shots.
The number one target for the Devils right now is Jacob Markstrom. It was revealed by Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet that the Devils and Flames had talks, but they broke down this week.
So, let's go over why the Devils haven't or can't make the deal right now.
Reason #1: Price
The Devils have a ton of assets. Every team is circling the likes of Simon Nemec, Alex Holtz, Dawson Mercer, Kevin Bahl, and Santeri Hatakka as NHL players worth targeting in a deal. Add in quality prospects like Seamus Casey, Lenni Hameenaho, Arseni Gritsyuk, and Josh Filmon, and teams want to make trades with the Devils.
Tom Fitzgerald is taking on the riskiest years in the Markstrom deal, but the Flames realize their goalie is at its highest value in years. Those two situations don't mix. We won't be surprised if the Devils would have to add Mercer or Holtz to make this deal work. The Flames prioritize NHL players, and the Devils would have to make that the central part of the deal.
The Flames could also demand Simon Nemec in the deal. He's been great as a rookie, and the Devils should not move him to save a floundering season. Markstrom is a long-term piece, so it is worth giving up long-term pieces. However, it's not worth mortgaging the future. Fitzgerald knows that, and that's the number-one reason this deal isn't getting done.