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During the latest edition of the 31 Thoughts podcast
, Elliotte Friedman and Jeff Marek did a team-by-team rundown of what to expect leading up to the deadline and, in some cases, beyond that.
The New Jersey Devils were one of the teams discussed in more detail. Among the notable topics covered were deadline plans (selling, if that was not already blatantly obvious), Taylor Hall's future and offer sheets.
Some excerpts, which were transcribed in full on nicholsonhockey.com
, can be found below:
“Sell, sell, sell, sell, sell. It’s like the bad car salesman commercials of the 1970s,” said Friedman.
“You can see that for Marcus Johansson,” agreed Marek. “But can you also see that for someone like Damon Severson?”
“Severson was a guy who was on the market last year and they pulled him back,” recalled Friedman. “I think there’s a lot that New Jersey will consider doing.”
“And I’ll tell you this: We all talk about Detroit offer sheet - I wonder about New Jersey. I think they could be the offer sheet team this summer.”
“I’m watching them. They’re clearing the decks, right. You can see it. You don’t do that unless you have a plan. What’s the other side of that plan. It’s got to be Taylor Hall and someone. You’re not convincing Taylor Hall to stay if it’s just him. So it’s Taylor Hall and it’s somebody else.”
There's a lot to get to here so I'm going to break things down line by line:
• Selling is nothing new. The Devils are only five points ahead of the Senators for last place and the team's best player, Taylor Hall, is still out with no set return date. Next.
• I don't know whether the Devils attempted to re-sign Johansson and he wouldn't do it, or they just don't love the fit long-term, but it sure sounds like he is going to be moved at the deadline. I think he is in 2nd round pick + another asset territory but perhaps a couple more strong showings could get a desperate team to pull the trigger on a 1st or quality prospect. One can hope.
• The Damon Severson thing is not at all surprising to me. Leading up to the draft I heard his name was out there. I don't think the Devils were shopping him, per se, but he could have been had in the right deal. Obviously, nothing came of it. Severson seems to be progressing, and the Devils are pretty weak on defense, so I doubt anything happens with him.
• The offer sheet thing will get a lot of people excited and dreaming big. It's important to remember a) player x actually has to agree to sign with the Devils and; b) if you're chasing a big, big name (Brayden Point, Mitch Marner, etc.), you're tabling an offer that would cost four 1st round picks. Teams wouldn't give matching, and figuring things out after, a second thought otherwise.
I don't think enough people consider the first point, in particular. Not to knock the Devils but, for example, if the Leafs are offering Marner nine million a season and he wants 10, is he going to leave a young, star-studded team – one in close proximity to home – to join a poor Devils team for that difference in dollars? I don't see it.
If the Devils really are going to get involved in the offer sheet market, I think targeting mid-tier guys on cap-strapped teams is the more likely route. They could take a shot at signing a young, emerging player to a deal worth a little more than $4 million annually and only give up a 2nd rounder if unmatched.
• Last but not least, I fully agree with Friedman that something relatively big will be in the cards this summer. It has to be. You can't miss the playoffs by 100 points, sell off useful players (i.e. Johansson) for futures, and bank any and all progress on young players developing. That's not going to fly when attempting to re-sign Hall, nor should it. He's made the playoffs once in his career and, realistically speaking, the Devils never had a shot at coming out on top. He doesn't want to waste more years of his career, and the Devils can't afford to let him. He only has a few high, high-end seasons left in the tank. Not that Shero should spend money/assets on anyone and everyone, but he has to add some meaningful pieces and try to take another step forward here.
Strong showings from Johansson, Bratt not enough vs Penguins
The Marcus Johansson conundrum
On the trading of Brian Boyle
Shero squashes rumors Hall could be dealt prior to the deadline
On Taylor Hall's future with the Devils
What about Andre Burakovsky?
Zacha's offensive play leaves little room for optimism