Are New Jersey Devils Gaining Leverage In Goalie Trade Market?

For the longest time, the New Jersey Devils have been used as a marketing chip for teams who want to move a goalie. At one point, it seemed like the Devils were negotiating from a position of weakness, but that is changing rapidly.
Dallas Stars v New Jersey Devils
Dallas Stars v New Jersey Devils / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages

The New Jersey Devils are calling just about everyone when it comes to the goalie trade market. They've been tied to Juuse Saros, Jacob Markstrom, John Gibson, Jake Allen, Elvis Merzlikins, and Kaapo Kähkönen. Some are strong ties, like reports the Devils had something in the works for Markstrom before the deal died. Others are confirmed by GMs in public comments. This is all to show the Devils have no leverage in trade negotiations. It's not really working out that way.

Earlier in the season, teams with goalies had all the leverage. There were a plethora of teams who needed help at the position. The Carolina Hurricanes, Edmonton Oilers, Buffalo Sabres, Toronto Maple Leafs, Ottawa Senators, and Seattle Kraken were considered teams who needed goalies at least somewhat. The Devils, Oilers, and Maple Leafs were considered desperate. All three had Stanley Cup aspirations and saw their goalies tank them in the standings.

The Oilers have bounced back in the biggest way possible. They have two massive win streaks, and they are now third in the Pacific Division. Stuart Skinner now has a positive goals saved above average at 5v5, and his 4.20 GSAA at all strengths is even better. The Oilers are officially out of the goalie market, at least when it comes to the very expensive options.

The Maple Leafs are another story, but their situation might be too complicated to make a trade. Ilya Samsonov is still inconsistent, but Joseph Woll is back skating and could be back sooner rather than later. The Leafs will likely wait to see how good the young player is before making a huge move for the above names.

Of the other teams, the Sabres and Senators are completely out of the playoff race (no matter what they may say), the Hurricanes are expected to have Freddie Andersen back soon, and the Kraken have seen Joey Daccord play well enough to keep the job while Phillip Grubauer returns to form.

So, that leaves the Devils. Maybe the Los Angeles Kings join them, but really it's the Devils market. That's why Predators GM Barry Trotz went on the radio and called Tom Fitzgerald out by name.

There's a reason teams are leaking, or in this case, just straight up saying in public, that a deal with the Devils has been discussed. They want to drum up interest from other teams. That interest does not exist. Nobody is calling Anaheim for Gibson. Calgary is talking to everyone because they also have Noah Hanifin and Chris Tanev, but Markstrom is not the prize for other teams that he would be for the Devils. Saros isn't going anywhere because Trotz won't get a franchise-changing piece for him. The Devils suddenly stole the leverage back, and it's all because Fitzgerald was patient.