The NHL trade deadline has come and gone, and the New Jersey Devils have added to their stockpile of assets. Early Monday morning, they traded goalie Keith Kinkaid to the Columbus Blue Jackets for a 2022 fifth-round pick. That was followed by a deal that sent Marcus Johansson to the Boston Bruins for a 2019 second-round pick and a 2020 fourth-round pick.
General manager Ray Shero was active in the days and weeks prior, too. He sent Ben Lovejoy to the Dallas Stars for Connor Carrick and a 2019 third-round pick over the weekend. He also acquired a second-round pick from the Nashville Predators for Brian Boyle, giving the Devils 10 picks in the 2019 Entry Draft, and a chance to wheel and deal this offseason.
Kinkaid, Johansson Net Fair Returns
It had been a struggle for Kinkaid this season, to say the least. He has a .891 save percentage (SV%) on the season and has a quality start percentage below 40 percent, which is not good. He also has a goals saved above average (GSAA) of minus-15.17, second worst in the league to Martin Jones.
Kinkaid’s struggles are obvious, but he has a good track record as a backup. He finished last season with a .913 SV% and had a .916 SV% in 2016-17. If he can find his game again, he could be an upgrade over current Blue Jackets’ backup, Joonas Korpisalo, who has a .896 SV% this season. For a 2022 draft pick, Kinkaid is worth a gamble, while the Devils should be happy they were able to get something in return, given his struggles.
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Kinkaid’s departure also means Mackenzie Blackwood will get a chance to finish the season in the NHL. Blackwood, who’s already appeared in 13 games this season, has been impressive when given playing time. He has a .926 SV% in the NHL, as well as a GSAA of 5.07, and will share the net with Cory Schneider. There’s a good chance that will be the team’s tandem in 2019-20, so it’ll be interesting to see how they close out the season.
The Devils made out pretty well in the other trade of the day too. Johansson had been playing some of his best hockey as of late, with 22 points in his final 30 games with the Devils, a 60-point pace over 82 games. And he was playing a majority of his time on the Devils’ first line with Taylor Hall out with an injury.
When the Devils acquired Johansson from the Washington Capitals, they spent a second and third-round pick, so they almost equaled what they paid for him. His loss will be a bit harder to fill than Kinkaid’s though. Top-six forwards don’t grow on trees, so the Devils will have to find a replacement. Johansson is an unrestricted free agent this summer, so he could return to New Jersey. But how often does that happen?
Devils Set Up for Active Offseason
The Devils didn’t acquire any prospects this deadline, but they loaded up on picks, as well as a roster player in Carrick. The real story is the draft picks, which Shero has used to his advantage in the past. I mentioned Johansson’s acquisition, but he also spent second and third-round picks to acquire Kyle Palmieri. Since coming to the Devils, he has 106 goals and 202 points in 287 games, so I’d say that trade has paid off.
Palmieri was a productive forward in Anaheim, but he had a hard time getting ice time when he was there. He broke out once he got to the Devils and has become one of their best forwards. I’d imagine that’s the type of trade Shero will try to pull off again, where he looks for an under-utilized forward that will benefit from a greater role. He could also look to a cap-strapped team like the Toronto Maple Leafs or Tampa Bay Lightning to make a deal.
If Shero decides to keep his picks, he could end up using all of them as he did during the 2017 Entry Draft, where they also had 10 selections. But things are a bit different this offseason with Hall being eligible for an extension on July 1. The Devils need to get players around him to convince him to stay, and they’ll have to do so through at least one trade. Shero is not a big free-agent spender, so that makes a trade more likely too.
To say it was an important trade deadline for the Devils would be an understatement. It’s obvious they have some more rebuilding to do, and they need assets to do it the right way. Shero accomplished what he needed to and gave the Devils six picks in the first three rounds of the draft. Carrick could also prove to be a pretty useful player for them beyond this season.
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The trades also open up some roster spots in the NHL, which should give prospects like Michael McLeod and John Quenneville an extended run to end the season. That’ll be important to their development and will help give Shero an idea of what his greatest offseason needs are as well. That helps set up the Devils for the summer, and it should be an exciting one when the time comes.
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