The New Jersey Devils are currently in a position to add another defenseman with veteran experience to help balance the youth. Right now, the unit is somewhat inexperienced. Teams like the Anaheim Ducks are beginning to fall further away from the playoffs out in the Western Conference. It would be interesting for the Devils to add a very physical yet defensively sound player in Ilya Lyubushkin from the Ducks.
The New Jersey Devils did make a trade with the Anaheim Ducks way back in 2017 when they sent fan favorite Adam Henrique and an NHL Draft pick for Sami Vatanen and a conditional pick. The deal shook Devils' discourse that day. However, this time, if a trade between both teams occurs, it would be Tom Fitzgerald going for a physical shutdown guy and not someone who is offensive-minded on defense. The Devils have been missing that Sasquatch of a defenseman who can not only layout the body cleanly but also shutdown lanes and block shots. Tom Fitzgerald didn't have the cap space to leverage Nikita Zadorov but did have the assets to do it.
Lyubushkin will only cost $2.75 million in cap space per CapFriendly. This will be a much easier contract to digest. If the Devils put Dougie Hamilton on LTIR, this would give $9 million in cap space to play with. Ilya Lyubushkin is one of those more classic physical shutdown Russian defenders who knows what taking time and space is as a veteran d-man. Defensive Coach Ryan McGill needs a new tool in his toolbox that he can implement that will tighten up the defense, no pun intended, while securing the backend.
The Moscow native of Russia has 69 blocked shots and 51 hits in 27 games played already for the Anaheim Ducks. He is at the ripe age of 29 and is in the last year of his contract. This will be a very good problem to have and would be a tremendous pickup by Tom Fitzgerald, who can ink him into a team-friendly deal. Adding Lyubushkin brings another veteran with playoff experience who can play a competitive game. Teams look at the New Jersey Devils playing a bit loosey-goosey defensively but started tightening it up on the West Coast a little bit. It's time to add a very disciplined, defensive-minded defenseman who cuts down on a lot of unnecessary penalties.
It is time for Tom Fitzgerald to get on the phone once again and get moving by bringing in a very capable, scary defenseman who will be a presence on the blueline. Adding Lyubushkin will bring that extra oomph on the backend who can also teach guys like Kevin Bahl how to be true shutdown defenders that strike fear into opponents who will fear the Devils physical presence on defense. Throughout Ilya Lyubushkin's career, he has amassed 451 blocked shots and 741 hits in 306 games played. This would be a huge addition to the New Jersey Devils defensive end since adding John Marino from Pittsburgh if this trade were to work out.