Category Archives: NJ Devils

Predicting Protected Lists: New Jersey Devils 

The New Jersey Devils have a long road ahead before they are ready to compete again. They have a solid core of Cory Schneider, Taylor Hall, and Adam Henrique, but the pieces just are not there yet. Losing someone significant in the expansion draft will not be of worry for Ray Shero. 

Up front, Taylor Hall, Adam Henrique, Kyle Palmieri, and Travis Zajac will absolutely be protected. These four were New Jersey’s best forwards last season and, barring a major trade, will be again next season. 

After that, there are no clear choices for players to protect. 

Beau Bennett and Stefan Noesen are two guys that may be worth protecting. Neither are ideal, but the Devils really do not have many other options up front. 

The same situation can be said for Mike Cammalleri. Not a good pick for protection, but it is not like the Devils are keeping him over a better player. They have nothing to lose by doing it. 

You could also argue for Devante Smith-Pelley to be protected over any of the previous three players mentioned 

On defense, they at least have a few good pieces to protect. It will likely be Andy Greene, John Moore, and Damon Severson. 

In goal, Cory Schneider is a no-brainer. 

The New Jersey Devils potential protection list:

Forwards: Taylor Hall, Adam Henrique, Kyle Palmieri, Travis Zajac, Beau Bennett, Stefan Noesen, Mike Cammalleri

Defense: Andy Greene, John Moore, Damon Severson

Goalie: Cory Schneider 

On the bright side for the Devils, in a couple of weeks they will have either Nolan Patrick or Nico Hischier as a part of their organization. There is also a strong possibility that they can string together a trade or two to fill up protection spots. 

Next team: New York Islanders

Kevin, @TheNHLFiles

2017 NHL Mock Draft: Edition II (May 2017)

2017 NHL Mock Draft: Edition II (May)

*Order of last four picks not yet determined 

The 2017 NHL Draft has gotten an unfair shake. Just because it pales in comparison to the high level talent of the 2015 and 2016 drafts, it should not be looked upon as a throwaway draft. 

At the top, Nolan and Nico are two very, very good players. They are not on the same stature as Connor McDavid and Auston Matthews, but that is not a slight by any means at the two young players. Rather, it serves as a testament to how brilliant and unique McDavid and Matthews are. 

Making a mock draft for this year is incredibly difficult. After the first two picks, it is a total guessing game. There are players that could go as high as the top ten or as low as the bottom five of the first round. From pick five and onward, the draft is a cluster of talent that has not separated enough to make an accurate read. 

Furthermore, the expansion draft plays a large role in this entry draft. Many first round picks may be in play, specifically dealt for players who may be otherwise exposed by his current team. There is no way to predict who and which picks go where, so rather a probability of a pick being traded was added here. 

So, without further ado, here is a 2017 NHL Mock (Entry) Draft: 

1. New Jersey: Nico Hischier (F)

Chance pick is traded: very low 

Analysis: Personally, I believe New Jersey is one of the few teams that fits Nolan Patrick better than Nico Nischier, however I still think they go with Hischier. The dynamic Swiss forward, who made his name primarily at the 2016 World Juniors, will add a necessary speed to the middle of New Jersey’s lineup. 

2. Philadelphia: Nolan Patrick (F)

Chance pick is traded: very low 

Analysis: The Flyers were the big winners of the draft, moving up over ten spots to the #2 selection. No matter who falls, be it Patrick or Hischier, the Flyers are getting a fantastic player. Patrick has had injury concerns, but this is not the first time a top prospect has had these concerns. Patrick should find a home nicely in the middle six of Philadelphia for the upcoming years. 

3. Dallas: Casey Mittlestadt (F)

Chance pick is traded: high 

Analysis: Rumors are already swirling that Dallas is looking to trade the #3 pick, which in all reality makes sense. Aside from Heiskanen, all the top prospects in the drafts are centers. That does not fill a need for Dallas, even though it’s a bad idea to draft based on immediate team need (see Dubois and Columbus in 2016). Dallas moving this pick would surely be down a few spots for Heiskanen, Makar, or Liljegren, or for an NHL-ready defenseman. A trade with this pick could come before the expansion draft as well if a team cannot protect a high-end defender. Options include Matt Dumba, Jonas Brodin, Sami Vatanen, Jacob Trouba, and Olli Maatta among others. 

4. Colorado: Miro Heiskanen (D)

Chance pick is traded: medium 

Analysis: The Avalanche got hit hard by the draft lottery, but it may not all be for naught. If three centers go in the top three, which is highly likely depending the teams selecting there, Miro Heiskanen could fall right into Joe Sakic’s (or Kyle Dubas’) lap. The Finnish defenseman shined at the Under-18 Championships. 

5. Vancouver: Gabriel Vilardi (F)

Chance pick is traded: low 

Analysis: The Canucks are picking at #5 for the second straight year and are expected to keep their draft pick. Vilardi is an above-average sized center that can do it all. 

6. Vegas: Cody Glass (F)

Chance pick is traded: low 

Analysis: For Vegas’ first ever selection in an NHL draft, a lot of factors will be put into place. The primary one is the expansion draft which will take place a few days prior to the entry draft. How the team shakes out will have a large impact on who Vegas decided to take on June 23. But, judging off of projections, they will likely need forwards instead of defenseman. Glass averaged just under 1.5 points per game for the Portland Winterhawks last season and would be a welcomed addition to Vegas’ center pipeline.  

7. Arizona: Cale Makar (D)

Chance pick is traded: low

Analysis: After a few years of drafting forwards high (Strome and Keller), it appears it is time that Arizona takes a (much needed) defenseman in the top-ten. Makar, a right-handed defenseman, still needs time to round out his defensive game, however he is strong offensively. Despite the growing pains that would be involved, Makar would be a great investment for John Chayka. 

8. Buffalo: Timothy Liljegren (D)

Chance pick is traded: medium 

Analysis: Liljegren was once slated to be a top-two pick with Nolan Patrick in this year’s draft, however he has fallen out of favor for multiple reasons. One of the main causes is that early in the season, he underwent a case of mono which took him out of action for a few weeks. Due to inactivity, his strength and conditioning dropped off and may have scared some teams away. Liljegren, though, still remains an enticing defenseman for the top-ten. As a good puck mover, he could slide in to Buffalo’s defensive core within three years. He would provide a lot of help for a seriously depleted group. 

9. Detroit: Nicolas Hague (D)

Chance pick is traded: low 

Analysis: The Red Wings took place in the lottery for the first time in a quarter of a century this year and wound up with the ninth overall selection. They have a bunch of options available, as the draft board gets pretty clustered at this point. Hague, 6’5/216, is a big and bruising defenseman. Adding an elite prospect from early in the draft is something out of the ordinary for Detroit, but it will be highly difficult to screw up this pick — Hague or not. 

10. Florida: Michael Rasmussen (F)

Chance pick is traded: medium

Analysis: Florida flopped this year under new management, so Dave Tallon and company are back at the helm. Rasmussen is a typical forward for this group, as he possesses size and a scoring touch. His 5v5 scoring has been put into question, but it is unlikely that that alone will turn teams away. 

11. Los Angeles: Elias Pettersson (F)

Chance pick is traded: low

Analysis: The Kings need to get younger and quicker, and the 11th overall selection helps them do just that. Pettersson can play all facets of the game and would a slot in nicely behind Anze Kopitar and/or Jeff Carter in the future. 

12. Carolina: Owen Tippett (F)

Chance pick is traded: low 

Analysis: The dynamic scoring winger Tippett is exactly what Carolina needs up front. Few players in this draft can match Tippett’s natural scoring ability, as he potted 44 goals in 60 games this season for the Mississauga Steelheads. 

13. Winnipeg: Callan Foote (F)

Chance pick is traded: low

Analysis: An assist machine in the WHL, Foote, son of Adam, is slated to go high in the draft this year. The offensive nature of Foote’s game may not translate completely to the NHL, but regardless he is slated to be a NHL mainstay and solid two-way guy. The addition of Foote would complement the strong forward prospect core of Winnipeg nicely. 

14. Tampa Bay: Nick Suzuki (F)

Chance pick is traded: low 

Analysis: Although his smaller stature may deter teams away, Suzuki is one of the most complete players in the draft. He can play on all special teams and excels at even strength as well. 

15. New York (I): Eeli Tolvanen (F) 

Chance pick is traded: medium 

Analysis: Tolvanen, coming out of the USHL, has above-average shot and offensive instincts for his age. His defensive game needs work, but it is nothing that cannot be rounded out. The Isles have had some good picks in the mid-first round in the past, but whether they keep the pick remains to be seen. 

16. Calgary: Kristian Vesalainen (F)

Chance pick is traded: medium 

Analysis: Veslainen is a young and large forward that broke out this past season in Finland. His all around ability will help bolster Calgary’s subpar forward pipeline. 

17. Toronto: Juuso Valimaki (D) 

Chance pick is traded: medium 

Analysis: Valimaki was above point-per-game this past season for Tri-City in the WHL. Toronto may trade this pick before the expansion draft (hello, Anaheim), but if they keep it, Valimaki is a good addition to their farm system. 

18. Boston: Kailer Yamamoto (F)

Chance pick is traded: low 

Analysis: Yamamoto dropping to this spot would be a blessing to Boston. Although a dynamic scoring forward, he strays from the Big Bad Bruins model as he sits at 5’9/160. 

19. San Jose: Shane Bowers (F)

Chance pick is traded: low 

Analysis: Bowers is good at a lot of things but not overly great at one thing. Not that that’s a bad notion. He’s a nice center for San Jose to cope for when Joe Thornton eventually leaves or retires. 

20. St. Louis: Martin Necas (F)

Chance pick is traded: medium 

Analysis: Necas has a lot of ability to slide up and down the draft board. He could go as high as the top-ten or slide down to near this position with St. Louis. The Czech center is brilliant offensively and brings to the table exactly what the Blues need. 

21. New York (R): Connor Timmins (D) 

Chance pick is traded: low 

Analysis: A bit of a jump for Timmins, however he would be a good addition to the Rangers defensive core. He could make an immediate impact if Staal, Girardi, and/or Holden need to be replaced. 

22. Edmonton: Robert Thomas (F)

Chance pick is traded: low 

Analysis: Edmonton is picking outside of the first 14 in a long time in this draft. Thomas is a do-it-all kind of guy. 

23. Arizona (via MIN): Erik Brannstrom (D)

Chance pick is traded: medium 

Analysis: Arizona could move this pick for immediate help, but Brannstrom is a safe bet if they keep it. A quick and offensive defenseman, he’d add to their blueline prospects nicely. 

24. Columbus: Klim Kostin (F) 

Chance pick is traded: low 

Analysis: From the KHL, Kostin brings skill and talent to the ice every single night. Columbus isn’t afraid to pick Russians, either. But the questions that begs is: when is he planning to come (if at all) to North America? 

25. Montreal: Ryan Poehling (F)

Chance pick is traded: low 

Analysis: Similar to Robert Thomas, the 6’2 Poehling can play in all areas of the rink. Being a natural center helps Montreal as well. 

26. Chicago: Lias Andersson (F)

Chance pick is traded: low 

Analysis: Although not immediately ready for the NHL, Andersson has a high ceiling. His defensive game stands out, but he can put up a good amount of points as well. 

27. St. Louis (via WSH): Pierre-Oliver Joseph (D)

Chance pick is traded: high 

Analysis: It is likely that Doug Armstrong moves this pick for offensive help before the expansion draft. However, for purposes of this mock draft, if he keeps it Joseph is a solid bet. He broke out in the QMJHL this season with 39 points in 63 games.

28. Ottawa: Uhro Vaakanainen (D)

Chance pick is traded: low 

Analysis: The smooth-skating Finnish defenseman has the ability to play on all special teams and in all 5v5 situations. 

29. Dallas (via ANA): Isaac Ratcliffe (F)

Chance pick is traded: medium 

Analysis: Dallas got this pick from Anaheim in the Patrick Eaves trade. Ratcliffe is a big power forward listed at 6’6/195. He potted 28 goals in 67 games with OHL’s Guelph this past year. 

30. Nashville: Kole Lind (F)

Chance pick is traded: medium 

Analysis: Lind has the potential to be a good penalty killer and middle-six scorer in the future. Nashville could go with a more dynamic presence here though. 

31. Pittsburgh: Maxime Comtois (F)

Chance pick is traded: low 

Analysis: Comtois is an energy player who brings a lot of offense to the table. He’s the type of guy that could be able to slot into Pittsburgh’s lineup sooner rather than later. 

Other notable names that could go in Round 1: Jonah Gadjovich (F), Jaret Anderson-Dolan (F), Grant Mismash (F), Jake Oettinger (G), Nikita Popugaev (F), Morgan Frost (F), Dylan Samberg (D), Jason Robertson (F)

-Kevin, @TheNHLFiles 

The outcome of the NHL draft lottery complicates roster decisions for Hextall, Nill 

The NHL draft lottery has come and gone for yet another year. This time around, however, it was quite controversial and unexpected amongst many fans and league management alike. 

Colorado, Vancouver, and Arizona, who were the three worst teams in the league, all do not have top-three picks this year. Instead, New Jersey moved up from 5 to 1, Philadelphia moved up from 13 to 2, and Dallas moved up from 8 to 3. 

The NHL lottery system is designed to prevent tanking, and that is exactly what it did last night. Colorado, Arizona, and Vancouver were all trying to ice competitive teams at the start of the season, but it did not work out. It just so happened that these three teams became casualties of a system that was put in place after the Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel draft. 

As for who won the lottery, it will have a significant impact on certain players being on the market come draft day. The top prospects in the draft — Patrick, Hischier, and Mittlestadt — happen to all be centers. 

To be fair, New Jersey does not so much fit into this category as well as Philadelphia and Dallas do. The Devils need a bonafide center desperately as they lack star power down the middle. Whichever road they go of the three aforementioned prospects, they will be in good shape. Adding one of them to Taylor Hall (and potentially Ilya Kovalchuk) puts them in a solid place moving forward with their rebuild. 

As for Philadelphia and Dallas, things are not as simple. Both teams already had a logjam of centers heading into this offseason and the outcome of the draft lottery does not make it any easier. Albeit, Hextall and Nill likely aren’t complaining. 

For the Flyers, down the middle they previously had Giroux, Filppula, Couturier, with a combination of other players including Bellemare, Vecchione, Cousins, and Weal playing on the fourth line. Along with the group of previously mentioned fourth liners, Boyd Gordon and Scott Laughton can also play in that role. Travis Konecny is a natural center as well but saw a large majority of his time on the wing last season and will likely continue to see so moving forward. 

In the end, the Flyers have some choices to make over the summer if they want to bring one of Patrick, Hischier, or Middlestadt on to the team next season. 

The player that could be in limbo throughout this whole situation is Sean Couturier. The 24-year-old center was already in trade speculation following the Filppula acquisition at the trade deadline, but now things are even more complicated. Couturier posted 14 goals and 34 points in 66 games last season and is more regarded as a defensive center. 

A handful of teams would love to get their hands on Couturier. It would be a tough sell for the Flyers and Hextall, but they made be forced into a move due to the outcome of the draft lottery. Regardless, the price on Couturier would not be cheap. 

In fairness, however, the Flyers could keep one of Hischier/Patrick/Mittlestadt or Couturier on the fourth line and work things out from there. Or, they could return their second overall pick to Juniors/the USHL. The latter is a lot more unlikely but not out of the question. 

The Dallas Stars are in a similar situation. The original plan heading into next season, according to Stars reporter Mike Heika, was to have Seguin, Spezza, and Faksa play at center. Devin Shore or Mark McNeill could fill in at fourth line center. 

This plan leaves out Cody Eakin, who Heika speculated could be traded before the expansion draft. Much like Couturier, Eakin is a defensive oriented middle-six center that a lot of teams would have serious interest in. 

Moving forward after the expansion draft, a lot of questions need to be answered for the Stars. They did not want to drop Radek Faksa down the depth chart for Cody Eakin, but will they think the same way for a bonafide center prospect? Only time will tell, but it is certainly up in the air. 

This situation with Dallas may unfold differently than people expect. Due to their already quality center core, they could look to trade down in the draft. A team like Colorado, Las Vegas or Vancouver would definitely be interested in one of Patrick, Hischier, or Mittlestadt. 

The Stars could go the root of taking a defenseman too. Cale Makar and Miro Heiskanen are both slated to go in or near the top-five of the draft. 

Also set to go high are Gabriel Vilardi and Michael Rasmussen, both of whom play center. 

There will rightfully be a lot of speculation in the upcoming months on behalf of the teams selecting within the top-three in June. The stunning outcome of the draft lottery has changed the outlook of the league and will show its true effects very soon. 

Stay tuned for more draft coverage coming soon. 

-Kevin, @TheNHLFiles

Three winners and three losers from the 2017 NHL trade deadline 

The 2017 NHL trade deadline has come and gone. Quite frankly, it was pretty boring this year. No big or surprising names were moved. However, there was certainly enough action to determine winners or losers of the past few days.

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Recap: Hall/Larsson and Subban/Weber trades, plus Stamkos’ signing 

Yes — we are just as confused as you are. 

In thirty minutes, the course of the next NHL season changed dramatically. In what was likely the biggest flurry of trades in NHL history, PK Subban, Taylor Hall, Shea Weber, and Adam Larsson were all dealt. Not to mention Steven Stamkos re-signed in Tampa Bay. 

So let’s start at the first trade of the day. New Jersey acquired Taylor Hall from Edmonton in exchange for Adam Larsson. This was a desperate move met by a lot of scrutiny, mostly rightful, by Peter Chiarelli. With trading chips such as Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Jordan Eberle, a deal involving Taylor Hall shouldn’t have been necessary. Adam Larsson is a solid young defender, but nowhere near the caliber of defenseman that should have been brought in for Taylor Hall. 

Regardless, this likely makes Edmonton the firm landing spot for Milan Lucic. That’s not to say Lucic is a formidable replacement for Taylor Hall, but it is what is going to happen.  

As for New Jersey, they get a bonafide first line winger. They’ve been devoid of scoring for a few years now and this is a tremendous pickup. 

Just a few minutes later, rumblings from Nick Kypreos came out that PK Subban could be on the move. That happened a few minutes later when he was traded to Nashville in exchange for Shea Weber. 

This is a mind boggling deal. Subban is a better player than Weber, who has significantly declined over the past few years. Weber will also be turning 31 at the start of the season and still has ten years left on his deal. It’s hard to find a rationale from Bergevin’s side when looking at this trade. 

From Nashville’s side, it is a fantastic trade. They get a younger, dynamic defenseman in Subban who can anchor their top-four for years to come. Ryan Ellis, PK Subban, Matthias Ekholm, and Roman Josi is a scary defensive corps. 

Moving on from trades, the Lighting also announced that they had re-signed big fish free agent Steven Stamkos to a eight year, 8.5 million per deal. This is a lower AAV than what other teams may have given him, but with no state income tax in Florida, he’ll earn a lot more than he would elsewhere. 

This changes Friday’s gameplan drastically. Almost every team was going to take a shot at Stamkos, so now they all have to revert to Plan B. David Backes and Frans Nielsen just moved up the leaderboard big time. 

Stay tuned for more NHL news, because I’m sure we’ll get some. 

-Kevin, @TheNHLFiles

Toronto wins lottery, Jets move up to No. 2 

The annual NHL draft lottery was held on Saturday night and for the first time in six years the team that finished last in the league won the lottery. That team was the Toronto Maple Leafs, who will have the chance to choose either Auston Matthews or Patrik Laine with the pick. 

There will be internal debate, but Auston Matthews is Toronto’s man. The center, currently playing in the Swiss league, will be ready to jump straight into the NHL in sheltered minutes behind Nazem Kadri (at least to start). 

Interest will be there from teams to move up, especially Arizona, but I do not foresee it happening. The Maple Leafs endured a tough season and waited a long time for this to happen, and to relinquish the ability to make the first overall selection would come at a high price. 

In other news and notes, the Winnipeg Jets moved up from #6 to #2. They’ll likely get the chance to take Patrik Laine, the Finnish winger that has drawn comparisons to Alex Ovechkin. 

I think there was a shot that someone like Buffalo or Calgary would have taken Laine first overall, but I don’t think it’ll happen now. 

Most of the teams remained in the spots they were originally at. 

Edmonton is picking at #4 and Jacob Chychrun or Matthew Tkachuk would be nice fits. 

Montreal got the #9 pick and will have a number of options to look at. Can things shake out so that Alex Nylander falls down to them? Entirely possible. 

New Jersey is at #10. Clayton Keller would be good for them. 

The months leading up to the draft will be full of preparation for the fourteen teams involved in the draft lottery plus many more as they are eliminated from the playoffs. The top three players in this year’s draft makes it an exciting one. With things like the salary cap and the expansion draft in play, there’s a lot to look forward to in terms of player movement come June. 

-Kevin, @TheNHLFiles

New Jersey Devils face complicated trade deadline situation

This article was contributed to the site by Drew, a lifelong Devils fan. You can find him on Twitter at @DWNJD. Charts via http://ownthepuck.blogspot.com/

The New Jersey Devils are in a tough spot after winning 5-2 Tuesday night at home against the New York Rangers, which would typically be a good thing. Although winning is always a good thing and the Devils currently sit one point behind Pittsburgh for a playoff spot, this leaves the Devils in a “limbo”, as they try to decide to sell or not at the NHL Trade Deadline, which is Monday at 3:00PM.

The two most valuable assets the Devils do have if they decide to sell are Lee Stempniak and David Schlemko. Stempniak, a 33-year old winger, has been surprisingly productive as a signing that came just before the season started. He is on a one-year deal that expires at the end of this season and being at a $850K cap hit makes him an extremely attractive option for teams that are close to the cap ceiling, like the Chicago Blackhawks. Stempniak has 41 points (16G, 25A) in 61 games played for New Jersey, which includes his goal last night against the Rangers.

Schlemko is valuable in a thin rental market for defensemen. The 28-year old defenseman has 17 points (6G, 11A) in 53 games played, which is a career high for him. Schlemko, like Stempniak, was also signed shortly before the season in training camp. He is also on a one-year deal that comes at a $650K cap hit. He has spent much of the season with the Devils in a “power play quarterback” role and some time on the penalty kill as well, making him an all-around solid defenseman.

It’s important to remember that the rental market for defensemen is extremely thin. Two deals have occurred in the last few days, with the Toronto Maple Leafs sending a package of Roman Polak and forward Nick Spaling to San Jose for a second-round pick in both 2017 and 2018 along with (a cap dump of) forward Raffi Torres, and the Capitals acquiring defenseman Mike Weber retained at 50% for a 2016 third-round pick. Polak was considered one of, if not the, best rental defenseman on the market, and he was able to draw in a haul of not one, but TWO second-round picks. Mike Weber, whose WARRIOR chart had him ranked in essentially every category as a bottom-pair or only top-six defenseman, still was able to get a third-round pick (although retained at 50%). Roman Polak, who averages time on ice as a top-four defenseman, only ranked favorably to Schlemko in playmaking and production per 60 minutes, as Schlemko ranked higher in goals, shot generation and suppression, goal differential, useful possession, and goal generation and suppression on a 60 minute scale, despite having on average only a top-six time on ice. (You can see the charts below)

schlemko
polak.png

This all considered, Schlemko should have no problem fetching just as much as Polak, and certainly more than Weber, if Ray Shero decides to deal him.

Comparable: If Tyler Kennedy is packaged with Schlemko and the Devils take back a small cap dump, the trade can be extremely similar to the Polak to San Jose trade.

Stempniak will likely be the first option teams that fall of the race for Andrew Ladd and Mikkel Boedker go for. Stempniak’s offensive numbers, mentioned earlier, still are favorable to Ladd’s (17G, 17A) and Boedker’s (13G, 25A). Stempniak’s HERO chart (explanation of HERO chart here: http://thehockeywriters.com/hero-charts/) shows overall better capability than Boedker, but Ladd takes the cake. Stempniak should not be overlooked in this crop of rental forwards though, as he provides a great all-around game, especially for his next-to-nothing cap hit. He should be able to fetch at least a second-round pick and a prospect or third-round pick, as he is one of the top rental forwards on the market with the lowest cap hit of them all.

Comparable: New Jersey trades Jaromir Jagr to the Florida Panthers for Florida’s second-round pick in the 2015 NHL Draft and a third-round pick in 2016. (Yes, this is from 2015, but it is certainly fresh in the minds of Devils fans, since these picks were used to acquire Kyle Palmieri.)

Dashboard 1 (2).png

Overall View: The Devils need to keep the long-term goal in mind. Ray Shero has done an excellent job clearing out was considered “dead weight” and filling in the open spots with younger, faster, hungrier players. This trade deadline is crucial to the future of the organization, due to the lack of prospects in the pipeline for the Devils. Attaining as many high draft picks as possible should be the goal regardless of where the Devils stand and how close to the playoffs they are.

That being said, the playoffs are still a possibility for the Devils. With the call-ups and emergence of forwards Joe Blandisi and Reid Boucher, the team in the red and black are still capable of a playoff berth. Paired with the return of the currently injured Michael Cammalleri, the Devils would have at least a competitive offense. Here’s a look at the likely lines without Stempniak or Schlemko:

Blandisi-Henrique-Cammalleri

Boucher-Zajac-Palmieri

Kalinin-Josefsen-Kennedy

Tootoo-Gionta-Farnham

Greene-Larsson

Moore-Severson

Merrill-Helgeson

Schneider

Kinkaid

 

Things to keep in mind approaching Monday’s trade deadline:

– Eric Gelinas could be in play. His quotes from Rich Chere’s interview with him showed frustration with his situation, which led to a talk with coach John Hynes. According to Chere, Gelinas has not asked for a trade yet.

 

– In Elliotte Friedman’s Reddit Hockey AMA, the Devils were mentioned a few times. He mentioned the Devils as a “dark horse” in the mix for disgruntled Tampa Bay forward Jonathan Drouin. Bob McKenzie also named New Jersey when talking about the Drouin situation this morning on TSN 1050 radio. He also stated the Devils were trying to decide whether to sell or not.

 

– The Devils have been scouting heavy lately. According to James Mirtle (@mirtle), New Jersey was one of the teams scouting the Maple Leafs vs. Predators game last night, which had 20 scouts in attendance. I tweeted Tom Gulitti yesterday and he responded that Philadelphia, Columbus, Tampa Bay, Ottawa, Dallas, and Los Angeles were scouting the Devils-Rangers game last night. Dallas and Los Angeles (in my own speculation) are teams that I could see being heavily interested in Schlemko. Tampa Bay makes me wonder if the Devils are in talks about Drouin, which would make sense since McKenzie and Friedman confirmed New Jersey’s interest.

 

– Other players that could be moved due to expiring contracts (although unlikely): Jordin Tootoo, Stephen Gionta, Tyler Kennedy, and Tuomo Ruutu. Keep an eye on Stefan Matteau too if the Devils make some sort of package deal.

 

– Ilya Kovalchuk was “dismissed” from SKA St. Petersburg’s practice the other day and made a healthy scratch for their second playoff game. It was reported today that SKA coach Sergei Zubov removed the captaincy from Kovalchuk, as well as scratched him for games three and four against Lokomitiv. Although there is nothing confirmed yet, there is heavy speculation that he could return to the NHL after this incident, or sign with another KHL team.

 

 -Drew, @DWNJD

Adam Larsson Could Mimick Victor Hedman’s Success

When Adam Larsson was drafted fourth overall in 2011, there was a lot of hype surrounding him, and rightfully so. It was the second time in three years that a Swedish defenseman went in the top-five, with Victor Hedman preceding him in 2009. Larsson, however, hasn’t translated all of his success into the NHL, but that could change very soon.  Read the rest of this entry

Could Toronto Trade Down with New Jersey?

The Toronto Maple Leafs are one of the most heavily covered teams headed into this draft. They have multiple big names on the trade market, including Phil Kessel and Dion Phaneuf. But, the Leafs first and smartest move could come via the trade board itself. 
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Babcock’s Descision: What it Means for Toronto, Detroit, Buffalo, San Jose, and New Jersey

The Mike Babcock sweepstakes is over. On Wednesday afternoon, it was announced that Babcock will become the 30th head coach in Toronto Maple Leafs history, as he inked an eight year deal at 50 million total salary. Babcock was sought after by multiple teams, but in the end, money and organizational power were big determining factors. 
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Jagr Traded to Florida, Clarkson to Columbus in Big Turn of Events

Well, general managers certainly don’t seem content on waiting until Monday to make trades after all? After a flurry of activity yesterday afternoon, today, by some grace of god, took the cake. Both Jaromir Jagr and David Clarkson (do you believe in miracles?) were traded, igniting what appears to be a fire sale for both franchises. Dave Nonis managed to partially erase the mess he started, and did what many people thought was to be impossible in trading David Clarkson.
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Two Possible Suitors for Jaromir Jagr

Although just turning 43 years old on February 15th, Jaromir Jagr still has a lot of hockey left in the tank. Jagr, much like he did with the Bruins in 2013, can provide a lot both on the ice and off the ice for a team looking to make a deep run in the playoffs. Jagr has 29 points in 53 games this season, averaging 17:58 time on ice per game. His stats this season, per 60 minutes played, are still good enough to be a second liner in the league, and he also has the advanced statistics to back it up.
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