After a solid start to the 2021-22 season, the New Jersey Devils have fallen dramatically. They now have a 10-15-5 record and are in seventh place in the Metropolitan Division. The Devils are also 1-8-1 in their last 10 games, including six losses in a row, which makes me wonder if general manager Tom Fitzgerald will start selling their assets. If so, the Boston Bruins should heavily pursue three players.
The Bruins need help. The playoffs aren’t out of the question, but their 14-10-2 record is underwhelming, especially considering they want to remain contenders. I recently discussed Bruins trade targets from the Seattle Kraken and Arizona Coyotes, but they also need to consider calling the Devils.
It’s surprising that the Bruins weren’t all over Ryan Graves when the Colorado Avalanche shopped him last season. He’s a 6-foot-5, left-handed defenseman who is not only an imposing figure on the back end but can also contribute offensively. He easily classifies as a top-four defenseman, but on the Bruins, he would instantly become their best defenseman on the left side.
So far this season, Graves has come as advertised. In 25 contests, he has three goals and 10 points, and he has been defensively responsible, with a plus-5 rating. That is particularly impressive considering the Devils’ recent struggles.
Graves is locked up until the end of the 2022-23 campaign with an affordable $3,166,667 cap hit. It wouldn’t be hard for the Bruins to fit him under the salary cap, and before he becomes an unrestricted free agent in the 2023 offseason, Boston could shop him as a rental. He would be a fantastic addition if the Devils are willing to trade him.
Andreas Johnsson struggled in his first season with the Devils in 2020-21. In 50 games, he had just five goals and 11 points. However, he has since returned to form and then some, with a team-leading nine goals and 19 points in 30 contests this campaign. With that, he’s been one of New Jersey’s most important forwards.
If Johnsson can maintain his point production as the season progresses, the 27-year-old winger should be on Boston’s radar. Now that Jake DeBrusk wants out, Johnsson could be an excellent replacement on the third-line left wing. He also has the versatility to play on his off-wing, which would allow him to sneak his way into the Bruins’ top-six if utilized on the right side.
Like Graves, Johnsson would be more than just a rental, as his contract doesn’t end until after the 2022-23 season. Since he’s on pace for a career year and has a modified no-trade clause that kicks in next season, the Devils could decide to move him this season. If available, he’s another player for the Bruins to consider.
Unlike the other two players on this list, Michael McLeod is off to a bit of a slow start this season. In 30 games, he has two goals and eight points. With that, he has a minus-8 rating, but that can be partly blamed on New Jersey’s struggles as a whole. However, remember that the Devils have depth down the middle, so the 23-year-old is forced to play fourth-line minutes when they have a healthy roster.
McLeod is a former first-round pick, selected by the Devils 12th-overall in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft. It makes me wonder if a change of scenery could help spark his offensive game. Boston would be an ideal destination for him, as unlike New Jersey, they aren’t too strong at center. Erik Haula has had more success at left wing this season, so perhaps the Mississauga native could take over as the Bruins’ third-line center. That is assuming DeBrusk is moved before or even as a part of a hypothetical deal with the Devils.
Another appealing factor about McLeod is that he plays a heavy game with an already impressive 68 hits this season. He has also won over 60% of his faceoffs, which is another plus to his game. Although he wouldn’t be as big of a splash for the Bruins in the short term, he still has room to grow, given his age.
At the end of the day, the Bruins have some nice options to choose from on the Devils. If New Jersey continues to struggle this mightily, there’s no question that they will be sellers at the trade deadline. Let’s see if these two teams can strike a deal by then.
Michael DeRosa is a contributor who covers the Boston Bruins and Chicago Blackhawks for The Hockey Writers. Since 2017, he’s written and edited for numerous websites. Besides his work for THW, you can also find him on NHLTradeRumors.me, BBallRumors.com, BaseballRumors.me, FootballRumors.me and The Rat Trick.