Devils Acquire Siegenthaler From Capitals

The New Jersey Devils have acquired defenseman Jonas Siegenthaler from the Washington Capitals in exchange for a conditional third-round pick in the 2021 Entry Draft.

The third-round pick will be the Arizona Coyotes pick, previously acquired in the Taylor Hall trade unless the Coyotes opt not to send that pick this year. If Arizona decides to retain the pick, The Devils’ 2021 third-round pick will be sent over instead.

Related: 2021 Trade Deadline Tracker

Siegenthaler is a 23-year-old, left-handed defender from Zurich, Switzerland. He was original drafted by the Capitals 57th overall in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft. Since making his debut in 2018, he has played 97 NHL games and has scored a total of 13 points, while averaging 15:08 of ice-time per game.

Why Would the Capitals Make This Trade?

From the Capitals’ perspective, this trade might seem a bit questionable. Siegenthaler is relatively young and was the seventh or eighth man on a very deep defensive corps for the Capitals. Last season, he was a mainstay in the team’s lineup. This season, he has seen the least usage among their eight defenders. He has only gotten into seven games and averaged 13:23 of ice time. It’s pretty clear from his lack of usage that he was not able to garner favor with first-year coach Peter Laviolette.

Jonas Siegenthaler Washington Capitals
Jonas Siegenthaler, former Washington Capital (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

The timing of this trade also coincides with the return of Michal Kempny to practice. Kempny is returning from an Achilles tendon surgery that occurred back in October 2020. The Capitals also gave Trevor van Riemsdyk a two-year contract extension on March 21, 2021. These factors combined with not having gained Laviolette’s favor meant that this season, and going forward, Siegenthaler was likely to be a non-factor in the Capitals’ lineup.

The third-round pick is not a terrible return. The Capitals acquired a draft asset for a player they had no intent to use. It’s possible that the third-round pick could be used in a future deal, but it’s also possible that they will hold onto it. Their own 2021 third-round pick was traded to San Jose at the 2020 trade deadline in exchange for Brendan Dillon.

What Does This Mean to the Devils?

The Devils are likely to have some openings in their defensive unit down the stretch this season. Dmitri Kulikov and Sami Vatanen are likely to be dealt at the trade deadline, while Ryan Murray has also been speculated about. The Devils have had some young defensemen showing well in the AHL, but it doesn’t seem like they’re ready to throw them to the wolves all at once in the NHL. It’s likely that if they had not added Siegenthaler, they would have recalled Connor Carrick and/or Matt Tennyson from the AHL to field some NHL minutes. That could still happen.

The Devils are getting a big-body defender who projects to play a similar role to what the Devils saw from Kulikov this season. Siegenthaler thinks the game well and is arguably a better skater than Kulikov. He’s not afraid to be physical along the boards and has a good battle level. He could be a very good defensive-minded, left-handed counterpart to Damon Severson or PK Subban for the remainder of this season.

Change of Scenery Could Help

Siegenthaler has a previous relationship with Devils’ captain Nico Hischier. The two played together for the Swiss at the 2017 World Junior Championships and they are reportedly good friends. On that team, Siegenthaler took on a leadership role and also had some of his most productive games offensively. It’s possible that being reunited with Hischier could bring back some of that offensive production.

Considering he was a 2015 draft pick, Siegenthaler is of similar age to the Devils’ young core. As of publication, the average age of the Devils’ roster is 24.64 years old. There’s still room for his game to develop, but he hasn’t gotten the playing time this season for that to happen. He is also moving to a team with a coach who likes big-body defenders who can skate. Siegenthaler’s game, on paper, is ideal for the type of player Lindy Ruff likes to have on his team. A fresh chance with a new organization and friends around him, plus similarly aged peers, could be the right situation for his career to reach new heights.

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