San Jose winger Eriah Hayes chases down New Jersey's Damon Severson in a game on October 18, 2014 at the Prudential Center in Newark, NJ.

Quiet Deadline An Indication of Devils Right Direction

If you were looking for a state of the organization’s confidence in the Devils of late, who have started to put things together on a more consistent basis over the last month and a half, the trade deadline just might have been a confirmation of sorts.

Tom Fitzgerald admitted he was trying on some ‘hockey trades,’ but ultimately nothing transpired before Monday’s 3 p.m. deadline, even with Pavel Zacha, heading into his last offseason with RFA status, being a much-discussed name, and one who could very well be dealt in the offseason.

But, perhaps the biggest indication that the Devils group has started to develop into a core worth keeping was the GM hanging onto a productive defenseman in what was a clear seller’s market for the position. Damon Severson, the longest-tenured Devil at 27, who has another full season remaining at a comfortable $4.166M cap hit and has produced (33 points/0.532 points-per-game), was not dealt despite this deadline producing hefty returns on blueliners including pending UFAs, Ben Chiarot and Hampus Lindholm going for packages that included first round picks.

“I was not going to push names out there,” Fitzgerald said on Monday at this media availability. “These players bring value to us, too. It doesn’t mean you have to trade every player with one year left in their contract to maximize their value when you’re going in the right direction. We’ll talk to Damon obviously when the offseason comes and see where his representation says he is. We still own his rights for another year.

“He’s a right-shot defenseman, they don’t grow on trees. I’m not sure someone was going to give me their best right-shot defenseman–top-four defenseman. It wasn’t a priority.”

So, perhaps that could mean the Devils, could follow one piece of recent transactions, opting to re-up Severson in the offseason, utilizing Lindholm’s 8-year, $52 million extension with the Bruins following his trade over the weekend as a comparable.

But unlike the prior deadlines that saw talent with soon-to-expire deals shipped out for future pieces, this could be different and a direct result of the Devils core starting to come together up-front and on in the maturity of the defensive approach. Severson’s already survived several coaching and management changes, the last remaining Devil from the Pete DeBoer, turned three-headed coaching approach under Lou Lamoriello that ultimately gave way to the start of the Ray Shero, John Hynes tenure. He’s seen some things, but might be positioned to see some light at the end of the tunnel in New Jersey.


The lone move on the deadline though was to address the most pressing need in acquiring Andrew Hammond from Montreal. Hammond, or ‘HAM-burglar’ is most remembered for his 2014-15 starting sting with Ottawa in which he went 20-1-2, was exchanged for 23-year-old minor league forward, Nate Schnarr, most remembered for being a piece in the Taylor Hall return from Arizona. Hammond, who remains on IR with a lower-body injury, may be able to take some of the burden off the oft-struggling tandem of Jon Gillies and rookie, Nico Daws. Daws will likely be returned to Utica at some point in the next month as the Comets look to have a long playoff run as one of the best teams in the AHL.


Fitzgerald also admitted that the market wasn’t there to acquire P.K. Subban, who even with money retained, had too gaudy a cap hit for contending teams to fathom. He’s not part of the team’s future plans on defense, a feeling that may be mutual. But, playing for a possible return to Montreal or a chance to play in Toronto? That could be reason to elevate his play in pursuit of his next deal.

Much-speculated Zacha was not moved, either. Fitzgerald acknowledged that some talks on and leading up to Monday may be ‘re-visited’ and you wonder if that could mean there may be dialogue on that front in the summer. And, if so, does Boston’s Jake DeBrusk factor in at all? His two-year extension on Monday did not have any impact in him changing his mind on his trade request, according to sources.

I got mixed signals on Christian Dvorak being someone NJ considered seriously, but they did look into the Habs as a trading partner in some fashion beyond the move for goaltending.