3 Devils Who Could Be Traded by the Deadline

The New Jersey Devils are headed toward another season of missing the playoffs. The organization is near the bottom of the Metropolitan Division, while the top four teams – the New York Rangers, Pittsburgh Penguins, Carolina Hurricanes, and Washington Capitals — have separated themselves from the other franchises in the Metro. With the trade deadline less than two months away, general managers (GMs) of playoff-contending teams will be making transactions in order to fill any weaknesses on their respective rosters. The Devils are in the position of being sellers, and GMs may express interest in some of the players who are considered rentals due to their statuses as pending free agents (FA) at the end of the season. Here are three players on the Devils who could get traded by the 2021-22 trade deadline.

P.K. Subban

P.K. Subban currently has a role as one of the more experienced veterans on the youngest team in the NHL. Dougie Hamilton is recovering from a broken jaw, which leaves the Devils without one of their best players and their premier defenseman. Subban is due to become an unrestricted free agent (UFA) at the end of the season.

Related: Devils Have the Defensive Depth to Overcome Hamilton’s Injury

It is unknown if GM Tom Fitzgerald has any intention of offering a new contract to the defenseman. He is in the last year of his eight-year, $72 million deal he agreed to previously as a member of the Montreal Canadiens with a $9 million cap hit. The Devils will likely choose to sign a veteran defenseman in free agency who has less of an average annual value (AAV) and is younger than Subban.

P.K. Subban New Jersey Devils
P.K. Subban, New Jersey Devils (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Subban would be a rental player for a playoff-contending team looking to improve its depth at the defensive position. The Devils have some defensemen in Christian Jaros and Colton White who are due to be restricted free agents (RFA) after 2021-22. Mason Geertsen will be an unrestricted free agent (UFA) after the season, while Damon Severson and Ryan Graves will be UFAs after 2022-23. Jonas Siegenthaler and Ty Smith are due to be RFAs after next season and appear to have a future in New Jersey.

Besides Hamilton, the current Devils players at the defensive position will all need to have their contract situations addressed by the start of the 2023-24 season. All of the defensemen are younger than Subban and are more affordable than the veteran defenseman based upon his AAV and cap hit. The Devils also agreed to a seven-year, $63 million contract with Hamilton last offseason with a $9 million AAV, which accounts for a cap hit of 11 percent against the team’s salary cap – the same as Subban’s. It seems likely Subban gets traded by the deadline before he becomes a UFA, so Fitzgerald can acquire another player or a draft pick in return.

Jimmy Vesey

Jimmy Vesey has been with several teams during the last few years after being acquired by the Buffalo Sabres in a trade from the New York Rangers – the franchise where he began his NHL career. While the six-year forward has proved to be versatile, as he’s been used on several different lines this season, he is a UFA at the end of the season. He would be an addition to a team looking to add depth to its group of forwards.

Vesey would be a player who could be used in the bottom-six and could move up depending upon injuries a team may accumulate. GMs and coaches value players who can be used with flexibility throughout a lineup when necessary. He has become more of a defensive forward since he was traded from the Blueshirts, as he has been relied upon on a team’s penalty-killing unit.

Jimmy Vesey, New Jersey Devils
Jimmy Vesey, New Jersey Devils (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Vesey was utilized on the penalty kill when he was a member of the Toronto Maple Leafs for part of the 2020-21 season. Before scheduled games on Jan. 28, the Devils’ penalty kill ranked a respectable 12th in the NHL, with a success rate of 81.7 percent. Head coaches value defensive players, especially in the postseason, as limiting goal-scoring becomes more vital given how organizations tend to tighten up their defensive play.

It remains to be seen if Vesey has a future with the Devils beyond 2021-22. Fitzgerald may listen to offers for the Boston, Massachusetts native, given that the team already has plenty of players who will be RFAs at the end of this and next season. The Devils’ general manager would likely choose to prioritize offering extensions to players that are younger than Vesey. Such players that are due to be RFAs this offseason and after 2022-23 are Jesper Bratt, Pavel Zacha, Yegor Sharangovich, and Jonas Siegenthaler, to name a few.

Tomas Tatar

The Devils signed Tomas Tatar to a two-year, $9 million contract last offseason. He brings experience to the youngest team in the NHL. The 31-year-old forward has been paired in the top-six this season, playing with young centers in Nico Hischier and Jack Hughes – the core players of the organization.

Tatar has one more year on his contract with an AAV of $4.5 million. He has proven throughout multiple years with the Detroit Red Wings and Canadiens he is capable of steady offensive production. He has recent experience playing in the Stanley Cup Final with two different franchises – the Vegas Golden Knights during 2017-18 and last season with the Canadiens.

Tatar’s offensive numbers may be starting to decline, but he is still valuable in terms of adding depth to a playoff-caliber team. If a franchise headed to the postseason were to have injuries to some of the forwards on its roster, he’d be a worthwhile addition. Due to his past production and recent experience in multiple Stanley Cup Final series, he has value as a veteran depth player for postseason teams.

The Devils may not have many players that they want to offer at the deadline, given that the organization is the youngest NHL franchise. Beyond some veteran players due to be UFAs after 2021-22, such as Subban and Vesey, the team does not have much that Fitzgerald would be willing to part with, given its youth. The team is still working toward becoming a contender in the Metro, and the front office is determining which young players will complement the core of Hughes, Hamilton, and Hischier.

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