The Devils didn’t do much at the trade deadline, but that didn’t stop them from destroying that poverty franchise from Manhattan.
Monday was the NHL trade deadline and the Devils made only one relatively minor move. They traded Nate Schnarr to the Montreal Canadiens for goaltender Andrew Hammond. Some fans on the internet were unhappy with this move and passionately disagreed with GM Tom Fitzgerald’s assessment that the roster as it currently stands is capable of competing with the best teams in the NHL. Fans wanted more than a currently injured goalie who has played only five games in the NHL since the end of the 2016-2017 season. Fans wanted a flashier move like trading PK Subban for future considerations or trading Damon Severson for a significant package of picks and prospects. Some of them probably would have settled for moving Jimmy Vesey for a conditional 6th round pick. But the fact of the matter is that none of that was going to realistically do anything to move the team forward in their quest to leave the basement of the Metropolitan Division.
PK Subban is gone at the end of the year and with a big contract that his play does not live up to, Fitzgerald couldn’t force any team to be interested in acquiring him. Jimmy Vesey would not have brought back much value as he is a bottom six forward that is also a pending UFA. Damon Severson likely could have gotten a big return seeing as he is a pretty good offensive right handed defenseman with another year left on his contract. But would moving him have helped New Jersey? Probably not. The Devils are one of the NHL’s youngest teams with a shaky defense as it is. The Devils have high hopes for Riley Walsh, a right handed defenseman that is playing well in Utica, but it is not likely that he is ready to step into Severson’s role of 22 minutes per night playing in all situations. Moving Severson for picks and prospects would leave a big hole on the right side that the Devils can’t fill yet, not to mention a young team losing a veteran of over 540 NHL games would probably hurt the locker room. Keeping Severson headed into next season was a pretty easy call unless a ridiculous package was offered in return. With Severson’s defensive deficiencies, I doubt such a package was offered. Now, about last night…
5 goals in the second period. 7 goals in the game. Chased Shesterkin from the net after two periods. Despite where the teams stand in the standings, last night was a fun night to be a Devils fan, well after the first period at least. The Rangers scored twice in the first twenty minutes and started the second period with a 2-0 lead over Jersey’s Team. It was an awful feeling to see the Devils not playing well in the Prudential Center in front of a crowd that appeared on TV to be comprised of about 75% Ranger fans. Then, the second period started. The Devils drastically changed their approach from the first period to the second. In the first period, the Devils seemed to be intimidated by Rangers goalie Igor Shesterkin. The Devils played as if only the perfect could beat Shesterkin, so they were passing up any opportunity to shoot that was less than perfect. In the second period, they changed that and the entire game flipped in it’s head. The Devils first four goals came from the Devils crashing the net and overwhelming Shesterkin. The Devils stopped looking for a perfect shot, and just started firing away and crashing the net. As a result, the second period, which started 2-0 Rangers, ended 5-2 Devils.
This game saw an impressive milestone for Devils super star Jack Hughes. He collected his 100th and 101st NHL points in this game with his two goals. This season, Hughes has truly exploded and proved that the Devils made the right choice when they made him the first overall pick in 2019. Hughes showed flashes of brilliance in his first two seasons, but he has really put it all together this year to dominate in just about every shift he has played. Now with 49 points (21G, 28A) in just 43 games, Hughes is leaving no doubt, no question, that he is a legit super star and one of the best players in the NHL. Some people, idiots, criticized the Devils for giving Jack an 8 year extension worth $8 million per season in December. However, Jack is already showing just how much of a bargain that contract is for New Jersey. The contract hasn’t even kicked in yet and Jack is already proving that the Devils made the right move by extending him. Early in his career and Jack is already joining some pretty impressive company.
Now, yes, I understand that the Devils are still at the bottom of the standings. However, it is impossible to ignore what this team is building. They have scored 7 goals SIX times so far this season! Two players are over a point per game and neither one has turned 25 yet! Captain Nico Hischier has six points in his last three games played. In his last 16 games, Hischier has earned 20 points. Rookie Dawson Mercer has 16 goals and 20 assists, while second year forward Yegor Sharangovich also has 16 goals on the year, including 8 in his last 19 games played. The Devils are building a truly elite top two lines of players under the age of 25. I am not just excited because of one awesome win. I am excited by what this team is building for the very near future. Just need someone to stop the puck…
Follow me on Twitter at PatBoooooth