On Sunday the New Jersey Devils officially rang the bell to open the trade market. They made two moves that should help improve their club into the future – and provided some idea of what teams could try to get when they start selling.
The first deal is perhaps more noteworthy for the Blackhawks. New Jersey traded defenseman Andy Greene to the New York Islanders for exchange for New York’s second round pick in the 2021 NHL Draft and defenseman David Quenneville.
David Quenneville was a seventh round pick by the Islanders in 2016. The 21-year-old defenseman has not appeared in an NHL game. But the important part of this equation is the second round pick.
Greene, 37, is in the final year of a contract with a $5M cap hit. He has 11 points in 53 games this season. Greene was averaging 20:07 on the ice per night of which 3:25 was coming short-handed. Greene led the Devils with 136 blocked shots on the season.
The Islanders gave up a good pick to bolster their blue line heading into a playoff push. The Islanders come into Monday tied for third place in the Metropolitan Division with 72 points.
If the Devils were able to get a second round pick for a 37-year-old defenseman in a walk year, the Blackhawks should be able to ask for comparable value if they were to entertain trading 25-year-old Olli Maatta. Maatta is averaging 18 minutes per game and ranks third on the Blackhawks with 94 blocked shots in 54 games. He has a $4,083,333 cap hit with two years remaining after the 2019-20 season on his contract.
The value New Jersey got for a defenseman in the final year of his contract is intriguing when the Blackhawks consider another defenseman who should be on the market: Erik Gustafsson. Gustafsson, 27, is in the final year of a contract with a $1.2M cap hit. After putting up 17 goals and 43 assists last year, Gustafsson has taken a step back this year. He’s lost his spot on the top power play unit (at times) to rookie Adam Boqvist but he still has 26 points in 58 games.
The other deal saw the Devils send forward Blake Coleman to the Lightning for forward prospect Nolan Foote and a first round pick in the 2020 or 2021 NHL Draft. Foote is a solid center who will add another dynamic weapon to the Devils’ young group as early as next year. He was the 27th overall pick in the 2019 NHL Draft.
The first round pick is conditional but the white-hot Lightning are going all-in. They paid a steep price to get a good, young, physical forward with a very modest contract.
Coleman, 28, as one year remaining on his current contract with a $1.8M cap hit. He led the Devils in hits and has scored 21 goals this season. The Blackhawks don’t really have a good comparable player for Coleman; Brandon Saad has 18 goals but isn’t the hitter Coleman is; he is better defensively and plays a big role on the Hawks penalty kill, however. Saad’s contract has a $6M cap hit for one more year after the 2019-20 campaign.