New Jersey isn’t out of the playoff picture. They are only eight points out of playoff contention with their 3-0 win over Arizona last night, and they have a huge matchup with Boston coming up on Friday, which may decide the fate of their season. Regardless of what happens with the playoff picture though, New Jersey need to move along some of the age on this team at the trade deadline. The problem is, it will be very difficult to sell off some players that realistically no other team has interest in. So to shed some light on who they are, here are three members of the New Jersey Devils who nobody will trade for.
#3 Ryane Clowe
Ryane Clowe used to be a player that could bring a physical element to the game while being skilled enough to permit top-6 minutes. Every team in the league covets a player like this. When David Clarkson jumped ship to Toronto, in theory, Clowe looked like a great, if not better replacement for the one-time 30-goal scorer. Unfortunately his stint with New Jersey has been tarnished by concussion problems, which has also ruled Clowe out from returning this season.
Lou Lamoriello said there’s “not a chance” that Ryane Clowe will play again this season. He doesn’t know about next season yet.
— Tom Gulitti (@TGfireandice) February 13, 2015
Now obviously this is a sad story considering the player Clowe used to be. However, the fact remains that there isn’t a team in the league that would trade for the 32-year old forward. In two seasons with New Jersey Clowe has only played in 56 games while registering eight goals and 30 points. He was also a minus 11 rating.
On top of his underwhelming stats, Clowe also has a cap-hit of $4.85 million spanning over the next three seasons. Add in four concussions over the past three seasons, and a trade would mean nothing more than a salary dump for New Jersey. The real question though isn’t if he will be traded, but if he retires before then.
#2 Tuomo Ruutu
Tuomo Ruutu is simply worn down. For years in Carolina, Ruutu was a guy that was good for at least 30+ points a season. He even reached the 50-point mark twice with his career-high at 57 points. His game was a lot like that of Ryane Clowe where he could play in your top-6, but would also fit nicely in a third or even fourth line role if needed.
At 32 years old, Ruutu has only played all 82 games in a season twice. Once being in his rookie season, and the other being the 10-11 season where he had his career-high in points. A bigger sign of wear and tear taking its toll on Rutuu is his points total over the past three seasons. Last year between Carolina and New Jersey, Ruutu only had 24 points in 76 games. This season Ruutu only has 11 points in 56 games.
The killer for trading Ruutu is the same problem as Clowe. He carries a cap-hit of $3.8 million, and has another year of his contract. At least for this season, the $3.8 million would be a tough sell, but manageable. However, the extra year on his contract will scare almost every team away from a trade. He’s worn down, not producing, and has an unfavorable contract; Ruutu won’t be going anywhere.
#1 Michael Ryder
Remember the days when Michael Ryder was scoring 30+ goals, over 60 points, and was actually relevant player? As crazy as it looks from his play this season, Ryder was a 30-goal scorer three times with his career high of 35 coming in the 11-12 season with the Dallas Stars. Ryder never cracked the 70-point mark, but was a solid player up until recently.
After the loss of Ilya Kovalchuk for reasons were all aware of, the Devils signed Ryder in hopes he could replace some of the goals lost from Kovy’s departure. In his first season with New Jersey, Ryder was as streaky as he’s ever been. There were points during the season where he’d score four or five in the same number of games. The problem is he then wouldn’t score for 10-15 games at a time, and sometimes even longer.
This season has been a disaster for Ryder. He has only scored six goals in 43 games, and 18 points in total. The worst part is that Ryder’s been a healthy scratch in all but one game since January 19th. The game Ryder played in was against Montreal where he took a crucial penalty, which the Canadians scored on. After that issue, it’s hard to imagine the Devils coaching staff reinserting Ryder in the lineup for a long time.
When it comes to Ryder potentially being traded, there’s hope, but not much. However, the one component Ryder has in his contractual favor is his deal ends after this season. Unlike Ruutu and Clowe, teams won’t have to worry about retaining Ryder for next year, which would make him a pure rental. On the other hand, teams won’t be in favor of his $3.5 million cap-hit. Teams up against the cap don’t have the financial flexibility to take in that kind of money, especially considering Ryder is playing terrible hockey at the age of 34. Regardless, out of the three players listed, Ryder would have the best chance of being moved because of his ability to score goals. It may not have worked out well between him and New Jersey, but Ryder could be a nice, under the radar ad for a playoff contender.
There are a couple of similarities between these three players. All of their cap-hits are high, they’re all under producing, and their ages are effecting their trade value. They would certainly be tough sells, but if GM Lou Lamoriello can find them new homes, it would be a huge burden off the Devils shoulders.