The Trade Deadline is somewhere in the neighbourhood of 24 hours away, and in keeping with the hip kids I can only describe the constantly changing landscape of the trading block as starting to get mad real. Former franchise faces now have new homes, teams are negotiating with other teams goalies, and we’re all starting to get a pretty good idea of who’s going to make the playoffs and who isn’t. If you’re not, check the standings.
This preview is on the defending Eastern Conference champions, and runner ups in the Stanley Cup, the New Jersey Devils. The Devils are currently in 7th place with 39 points, which isn’t too bad all things considered. They did make it all the way to the Cup finals last season, which can do a number on a team, and then lost Kovalchuk to injuries this season. If that wasn’t enough they also lost their face of the franchise Zach Parise in free agency during the summer. How they’re still in the playoffs is a miracle unto itself.
With the Devils fighting for their playoff lives, and their having already made some minor moves, I see them as a buyer heading into the deadline. Financial restraints will probably have them looking for rentals only, but you never know with Lou Lamoriello. He’s a crafty fella. For a look at some of the player’s Lou could be looking to add or subtract check out below.
Eric Fehr: He’s cheap, he’s big and he has a little offensive ability. Otherwise known as the perfect depth pick up at the deadline. Also on a 1 year deal for $600,000, which makes him especially attractive.
Clarke MacArthur: With Kovalchuk dealing with injury and the Devils having trouble scoring goals, this seems like a logical fit. Also a UFA at the end of this year. Would provide help on the powerplay and penalty kill, and fit anywhere in the Devils top nine forwards.
Chuck Kobasew: Could be a similar pickup to one they made near last year's deadline. If you’re thinking Alexei Ponikarovsky, bang on. Maybe not as good, but Kobasew wouldn’t be a bad addition. He’s fast and can chip in on special teams and be used in a bottom 6 forward role.
Ben Bishop: With Brodeur getting up there in age and Hedberg’s performance in steep decline, getting a great goalie prospect like Bishop would make a ton of sense. If Brodeur continues to play Bishop can split reps and continue to develop into a great starter for when Brodeur retires. In the short term it provides the Devils with a much better backup than Hedberg.
Ryan Whitney: The Devils power play still isn’t all that good, and their famed “no-name” defense corps could certainly use a little help. Enter Ryan Whitney. Would help with their 20th ranked power play and fit into a bottom four role.
Anton Volchenkov: If the Devils are going to be sending anyone out of town, my money’s on Volchenkov. He’s been a healthy scratch at times this season, and hasn’t been nearly as effective with the Devils as he once was with the Sens. He also makes $4.5M which is a lot for a stay at home defensemen on a team with financial troubles.
You can follow J.D. Burke for more hockey commentary, stats, tweets, etc. @WeveGotTwins and find his blog at We've Got Twins