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The New Jersey Devils have the potential to be as active as anyone in the coming weeks.
They're loaded with cap space, they have a quality farm system, an abundance of draft picks, and a clear need to improve. Not just to show Taylor Hall they want to contend sooner than later, but to make the most of the flexibility the likes of Nico Hischier, Jack Hughes, Jesper Bratt, Jesper Boqvist, Ty Smith and Mackenzie Blackwood provide while contributing on entry-level deals.
It's time to take a meaningful step forward, and adding an established top-4 defender is perhaps the most important thing Ray Shero can do to ensure that happens.
That's why it is hardly surprising the Devils are among the teams that have expressed interest in Jacob Trouba. He's a fine player, and at just 25 he'd be a long-term fit with the team's young core.
This from Larry Brooks of the NY Post:
The Rangers and Islanders are among the most aggressive teams in pursuit of Jets defenseman Jacob Trouba, The Post has learned, with the Devils also in the chase.
For the Islanders, would Lamoriello be willing to include defenseman Noah Dobson, last year’s 12th-overall pick, in a deal for Trouba. For the Devils, would Shero be willing to send Jesper Bratt and Jesper Boqvist or Ty Smith back the other way? Smith, almost certainly not.
I very much doubt the Devils would package two of those players. I could see them parting with one, though – most likely Bratt. I think Boqvist has a higher ceiling (he recorded 13 more points in his D+1 year while playing a league above Bratt), and Smith has the potential to be a top pairing guy.
While Bratt has already developed into a solid offensive player, his defensive play leaves a lot to be desired. In other words, he's not contributing much if he isn't scoring.
If Bratt and a B prospect – Jeremy Davies, Nathan Bastian, etc. – can serve as a good chunk of the package for a player like Trouba, you have to do it.
He's very mobile, he's physical, and he's much better offensively than given credit for. From 2016-19, only 13 blueliners averaged more points per 60 at 5v5 and Trouba put up 50 points the only season he was given real opportunity on PP1.
Trouba is worth paying a pretty penny for. Potentially stealing him from a division rival like the Rangers or Islanders would be the icing on the cake.
On the Taylor Hall contract situation
Data tracking Hughes and Kakko at the Worlds
On the Devils' potential interest in Nikita Zaitsev
Four potential targets on TSN's trade bait board
Five pieces the Devils could use as trade bait this summer
Another word on Jordan Eberle
The Kaapo Kakko blog™
The Jack Hughes blog™