Tom Fitzgerald makes absolutely head-scratching trade with Vegas Golden Knights

The New Jersey Devils have jumped off two very promising prospects who have a ton of NHL experience already. The return was almost universally despised.
New Jersey Devils v Vegas Golden Knights
New Jersey Devils v Vegas Golden Knights / Candice Ward/GettyImages

The New Jersey Devils had a rough day on Day 2 of the NHL Draft. They first traded John Marino to the new Utah franchise for a couple of second-round picks. This move comes as it appears Brett Pesce is on his way to New Jersey. That isn't the deal being referenced in the headline. That's a fine move on paper, as Marino is coming off a down year and the Devils can't hope for a bounceback from both Marino and Jonas Siegenthaler.

No, the crazy deal happened later in the day, and it had nothing to do with the 2024 NHL Draft at all.

Alexander Holtz has been one of the most volatile players on the Devils in years. Beyond how the fanbase feels about him, it seems the front office and coaching staff just expected the world from him despite his scoring prowess. They kept throwing his linemates into a blender, cutting his ice time for no real reason, holding him accountable for mistakes and failing to give him a real shot at building off his positive plays.

Despite all this, Holtz still had 16 goals this season. He wasn't even given a chance this season, yet he still prevailed with 16 goals. The avoided trading him in multiple different deals, including the Timo Meier trade. Now, they just traded him for fourth liner Paul Cotter.

Cotter isn't a bad player, as he can hit people and has offensive upside. This piece by our partners at Vegas Hockey Knight shows that the Devils are getting a player who can still get better. He had more than 200 hits last season, but his offensive instincts need work. Adding him to the roster makes sense in a vacuum.

However, using Holtz to get him is scary. This is a former seventh-overall pick that showed NHL skill and readiness that would excel under a new head coach. Instead, Fitz traded him for a player they likely could have signed in free agency.

On top of all that, the Devils added young goalie prospect Akira Schmid. Many of you remember that Schmid was the biggest reason the Devils were able to turn the series around with the New York Rangers, taking a 2-0 series deficit and winning the series in seven games.

The Devils move on this is bizarre to say the least. These are young players who would be cheap while the Devils start to add more and more expensive contracts to the books. Holtz had legit 30-goal upside that just hadn't been found yet. Schmid could be an NHL goalie. He was the backup to start last season. Now, both are in Vegas and will likely excel. Meanwhile, the Devils added a fourth liner with some upside and a third-round pick. This trade is a major question mark that will stand over Fitzgerald's entire offseason plan.