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New Jersey Devils notes: on deadline deals, stockpiling picks, and Hall

February 26, 2019, 10:37 AM ET [39 Comments]
Todd Cordell
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A few post-deadline thoughts:

1) Say what you want about what Ray Shero did or didn't do in the off-season, which has led the New Jersey Devils being in this spot. But he killed it at and leading up to the deadline. He did.

Landing a 2nd round pick for Brian Boyle, a 4th line player with a couple months of hockey remaining on his contract, is a big win. The same can be said about fetching a 3rd round pick and 24-year-old blueliner Connor Carrick, who looked really good in his debut, in exchange for Ben Lovejoy.

Some were disappointed with the return (a 2nd and a 4th) for Marcus Johansson but I thought it was pretty in line for the market.

Also, trading for Johansson, getting two years of hockey from him and then recouping almost the same thing the team initially parted with (a 2nd and a 3rd) is a good bit of business. Injuries prevented the deal from working out as well as it could have, but you'll *always* take your chances on two years of hockey from a 40-50 point player in exchange for the difference between a 4th and 3rd round pick. That's nothing.

Lastly, we get to Keith Kinkaid. The 29-year-old has posted a save percentage above .900 three times since December 23rd. He's been about as bad as possible for months, did not figure into the team's future plans, and almost nobody was looking for a goaltender. Shero still landed an asset (a 5th rounder). Not a great one, but an asset nonetheless. That's a win.

Add it all up and Shero netted two 2nd round picks, a 3rd, a 4th, a 5th, and 24-year-old NHL caliber defenseman in exchange for a 2nd line forward with injury problems, 4th liner, a 3rd pairing defenseman, and a backup goaltender, all of whom are on expiring contracts. That's good work.

2) I wouldn't be shocked if Shero takes a run at Johansson should he hit the open market in July. Over the last couple of months, Johansson showed the kind of impact he can make, the team and player are familiar with each other, and money certainly wouldn't be an issue.

If Shero wanted to keep Johansson around, why not take a run at re-signing him prior to the deadline? Maybe I'm overthinking this, and the team really is moving on entirely, but a few reasons come to mind:

a) Johansson was playing *very* well. Shero weakened the roster by trading him, which helps #TheTank.

b) Dealing Johansson now opens up a roster spot, and more opportunity, for young players like Michael McLeod and Nathan Bastian.

c) The picks acquired could be used to bring in a similar caliber player and/or address another need in the summer.

d) This opens up potential for a homerun scenario where Shero brings in assets, flips them for something that can help long-term, and then ends up with the player (Johansson) in a few months anyway. That's the kind of creativity you need when looking to turn a bottom-feeder into a playoff team again.

3) After all the recent wheeling and dealing, Shero is equipped with 10 picks in this year's draft, including three 2nd round picks and two 3rd round picks.

Some will be kept, of course, but I would expect Shero to be quite aggressive in using them to add immediate help and show Taylor Hall they're serious about surrounding him with the necessary supporting cast to have success.

4) Speaking of Hall, word is the Devils will make a decision on whether to bring him back or shut him down for the season within the next few weeks. Hall, like any player, would like to get some more game reps this season. I think the team should shut him down entirely, though. Give his body a ton of time to rest and heal so there are no lingering issues come October. The only thing that matters right now is developing young players (Nico Hischier, Mackenzie Blackwood, McLeod, Bastian, etc.) and losing games. Bringing Hall back would be counterintuitive.

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