Kurtis MacDermid: New Jersey Devils Perfect Missing Piece or New Penalty Leader?

The New Jersey Devils made a small trade to add Kurtis MacDermid from the Colorado Avalanche. Was he here to add toughness or is he just another anchor on this forward group?

Kurtis MacDermid in the St Louis Blues v New Jersey Devils game
Kurtis MacDermid in the St Louis Blues v New Jersey Devils game / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages

At the beginning of March, the New Jersey Devils traded for Kurtis MacDermid from the Colorado Avalanche for a 7th-round pick and the rights to forward Zakhar Bardakov. MacDermid is 29, one of the older players on the roster. Listed as a defenseman, he is large and tough. At 233 pounds and 6 feet 5 inches, MacDermid is one of the bigger players as well—maybe what the Devils have needed. 

From injuries to losing streaks, the Devils have underperformed this season. Right now, they are sitting outside of a playoff spot and hope MacDermid, as well as the abundance of new players from varying teams and from the Utica Comets, will bring them some toughness and luck in their Eastern Conference race. 

Back in Colorado, MacDermid had only played in 29 games, averaging around 5:05 minutes of ice time per game, the lowest on the team. With New Jersey, MacDermid has currently played eight games. In those eight, he has a little over four minutes of TOI/G, but what stands out is his penalty minutes. MacDermid has racked up 23 minutes in the penalty box.

While MacDermid may be one of the tougher players in the league, willing to drop the gloves and make a hard hit, the question of "Is it worth it?" quickly arises. Although the Devils may need defensively an enforcer who brings an element of physicality, MacDermid’s performance with the team so far is questionable. 

What the Devils need more than anything is consistency—consistent defense, consistent goaltending, consistent offensive efforts. The only thing MacDermid has brought so far is consistent penalties. 

This season, Nate Bastian has made the second most hits, sitting around 140. With Bastian out of the lineup due to an injury, the Devils need a player to step up who is willing to get more physical on the ice. MacDermid could be that replacement if he plays the right way. 

Backtrack to Feb. 22 when the Devils were matched up with the NY Rangers. About two minutes into the game, Rangers center Matt Rempe laid a hit on Nate Bastian. Rempe received a match penalty and a game suspension. In the next game against the Rangers, Matt Rempe again went in for a hit on Jonas Siegenthaler. Rempe lifted his elbow, coming into contact with Siegenthaler’s jaw. Rempe received a 5-minute major and a four-game suspension, and Siegenthaler left with a concussion.

MacDermid had known about Rempe’s hit on Bastian, and when he laid another one on Siegenthaler, MacDermid was ready to fight. In a recent post game interview, MacDermid explained that he “lost a lot of respect for him [Rempe]” in the game. Being more of a veteran player, MacDermid realizes that there is a right way and a wrong way to go about things on the ice. While yes, it is okay to get physical, continuously hurting players is not okay.

Many people believe that MacDermid’s urge to drop the gloves and fight Matt Rempe was a respectable move. MacDermid wants to stand up for his teammates, showing his camaraderie to his new team. 

In the final games for New Jersey, and in MacDermid’s time moving forward with the team, fans are looking to see if he will become a valuable player or if his time on the ice will only bring in countless penalty minutes. His message to the team is clear, and it is promising - MacDermid wants to be someone the team can rely on. “If anything does happen, then I’ll take care of it,” he said in a post-game interview. Whether or not he can be that missing defensive piece is important to the team moving on.