Disclaimer: I am not Ray Shero, but for this venture I will in someway pretend to be Ray Shero. Okay, now that that’s out of the way here are five players that I would consider acquiring if I were taking over as GM of the New Jersey Devils franchise. I won’t speculate on trades because there is no basis for any players going the other way, just a list of five players — under the age of 32 — that I would look to acquire heading into the 2015-16 NHL season, a season that the franchise will be desperate to make it back to the postseason after missing the last three years & four in five years.
The Detroit Red Wings have a ton of talent coming up through the pipeline (Tomas Tatar, Gustav Nyqvist, Teemu Pulkkinen, Landon Ferraro, etc) and GM Ken Holland will eventually have to attempt to keep them all under contact. Perhaps moving Helm to the Devils could help free up some cap space and bring back an asset as the Wings attempt to continue their amazing streak of making the playoffs. Helm could fill a role as a top-6 player — maybe on a line with Mike Cammalleri and Jordin Tootoo in New Jersey. And it would be really cool if he scored on Halloween, for the Devils, and I could write some kind of title like: Nightmare on Helm Street.
Speed kills. And Darren Helm has it. And the Devils lack it:
Most Devils fans have been thirsty for their team to acquire either Phil Kessel or James van Riemsdyk (we wouldn’t complain) since this past midseason, but a more likely scenario could include swapping one of their own expiring contracts for Lupul. He would be a risk with his injury history and New Jersey’s recent history of free agents acquired getting hurt (or just underperforming), but a decent risk if you are only using him on the third line/second power play unit.
It seems very likely that one of New Jersey’s young defenseman (excluding Adam Larsson unless it’s a blockbuster deal) will used as a trade chip this summer and it wouldn’t hurt to bring in another veteran defenseman to help Andy Greene anchor the Devils blue line. Sure, it would be confusing as hell having a Greene and a Green on the same team, but…Mike Green’s point shot is a presence that they have been missing and longing for since Brian Rafalski left as a free agent. They may have to overpay to convince him, but they will have the cap room to make that potential move their one big splash on July 1.
Mike Green knows how to play defense too ya know:
The Chicago Blackhawks will have to shed some salary this offseason in order to stay below the salary cap; especially if they win their third Stanley Cup in five years, there will likely be a fire sale. Players like Marcus Kruger (restricted free agent) and Patrick Sharp could be sacrificed just like after the first Cup in this stretch when Andrew Ladd and Dustin Byfuglien were shipped out of the Windy City. I’ve long been a fan of Kruger’s game and think he could round out the (potential/possible) third line alongside the aforementioned Lupul and fellow countryman Jacob Josefson.
Here’s another player that the Devils could acquire by using one of their young defensemen as a trade chip. Atkinson is scheduled to make $10.5 million over the next three seasons and despite Columbus being a division rival, there could be a deal to be made here that makes sense for both clubs. Perhaps even an exchange of draft picks could push one side into an agreement. New Jersey would gladly welcome a two-time 20-goal scorer under 30-years-old into their flock of forwards. He might have to find a new jersey number though, 13 is unavailable in Jersey.
Nice solo flight by Cam Atkinson, beating the entire Detroit team:
It might be cool to be Ray Shero, but I’m pretty sure he’d do a better job of being Ray Shero that I would. And he likely knows a thing or two more about being GM of an NHL franchise than I do. I’m sure there will be some sleepless nights, some trade, some free agent signings, but that’s the life of a professional sports GM. But it’s always fun to put on the GM cap every now and then. It will be interesting to see if any of these players are wearing red and black come October.
Dan Rice is in his 9th year of reporting for THW & has covered NJ Devils home games for 15+ years at various websites. He began his journey working for legendary broadcaster/writer Stan Fischler from 2002-04 & completed an internship at the ECHL; he also has been writing features for the NWHL (nwhl.zone) website since 2016.