The Devils have been making moves for some time and don’t slow down at the trade deadline.
The New Jersey Devils have been busy bees leading up to Monday’s NHL trade deadline.
A quick summary of the team’s moves over the past ten days:
- April 5: traded veteran forwards Kyle Palmieri and Travis Zajac to the New York Islanders in exchange for forwards A.J. Greer and Mason Jobst, a first-round pick in the 2021 NHL Draft, and a fourth-round pick in the 2022 NHL Draft.
- April 6: forward Tyce Thompson made his NHL debut.
- April 9: placed forward Nikita Gusev on unconditional waivers for the purpose of contract termination.
- April 11: Marián Studenič made his NHL debut.
- April 11: defenseman Sami Vatanen was placed on waivers.
With two veterans placed on waivers, two prospects making their first appearance in an NHL match and one major trade involving a couple cornerstone veterans, the table was set for more interesting moves on Monday.
Let’s break down how Monday’s 2021 NHL trade deadline went for New Jersey.
Nikita Gusev claimed by Florida Panthers
Gusev got off to a slow start to his career, but was one of the Devils’ best players when the 2020 season came to a close. The hope was that he would be able to build off that great play in 2021, but that wasn’t the case.
Gusev looked lost on the ice and ended up being scratched for games at a time. It’s unfortunate that the 28-year-old forward never lived up to expectations, at least in New Jersey, but the Devils did what they had to.
He was claimed off waivers on Monday by the Florida Panthers, one of the best teams in the NHL, and might turn things around on a better team where he feels less pressure to perform at a high level.
We have agreed to terms with Nikita Gusev on a one-year contract for the 2020-21 season!
— Florida Panthers (@FlaPanthers) April 11, 2021
Sami Vatanen claimed off waivers by Dallas Stars
The Devils lost Vatanen on waivers to the Dallas Stars on Monday.
Dallas claims Sami Vatanen off waivers from NJ
— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) April 12, 2021
The 29-year-old right-handed defenseman didn’t have the greatest time while with New Jersey in 2021: he only began to improve recently and didn’t even make his season debut until Feb. 18th.
Vatanen first came to the Devils during the 2017-18 season with whom he remained until being traded to the Carolina Hurricanes in Feb. 2020.
He appeared in seven postseason games with them before returning to New Jersey for the 2021 season. Fans probably don’t like that Vatanen left for free, but appears that the Devils were having trouble dealing him.
Dmitry Kulikov traded to Edmonton Oilers
Dmitry Kulikov was having a wonderful inaugural season with the Devils and it was clear early on that he would be one of the team’s likeliest trade candidates. The Edmonton Oilers came knocking and the Devils liked what they heard.
In exchange for Kulikov, the Devils would receive a conditional fourth-round pick in the 2022 NHL draft. It becomes a third-round pick if the Oilers advance to the second round of the 2021 playoffs.
🚨 TRADE ALERT 🚨
— New Jersey Devils (@NJDevils) April 12, 2021
This is another move that might have fans upset, but the deal makes sense. Kulikov theoretically could’ve been extended, but he’s signed through just the 2021 season. More importantly, this season is an outlier for him.
He’s never come close to this kind of production before, offensively or defensively. The Devils were smart to cash in and were, frankly, lucky to have gotten this Kulikov that could give them something in return.
Jonas Siegenthaler acquired from Washington Capitals
The Devils weren’t all about selling. They acquired LHD Jonas Siegenthaler from the Washington Capitals in exchange for a 2021 third-round pick.
🚨 TRADE ALERT 🚨
— New Jersey Devils (@NJDevils) April 11, 2021
With Kulikov and Vatanen gone and Ryan Murray signed to just a one-year deal, the Devils needed to add depth to their defensive group.
Siegenthaler, who’s played in just seven games this season, isn’t offensive-minded and won’t be one of the more significant blueliners on the team, but he gives them great depth.
He’s a good defensive-defenseman and brings much-needed physicality to this Devils team. At 23 years old, he’s still young and has the opportunity to keep developing his game.
Monitoring his play and future with the Devils will be interesting, especially as he becomes a restricted free agent at the end of the season.
It would have been nice for the Devils to have received more in exchange for Palmieri and Zajac. It’s unfortunate that things didn’t work out with Gusev and that teams weren’t calling about Vatanen. Watching Kulikov go will be hard, but the circumstances practically demanded it.
This deadline wasn’t perfect for the Devils, but they received assets, lower-level players, and some nice depth in Siegenthaler for guys who were on their way out.
Now the youngest team in the league, the Devils continue to prioritize developing their youngsters and stocking up on assets and draft picks. The standings might not be pretty, but this is a promising team headed in the right direction.