Boyle Dealt to Predators

The Devils have sent Brian Boyle to the Nashville Predators in exchange for the Preds’ second pick in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft.

The Devils put out a press release on the trade, mentioning that the forward “spent the past two seasons with New Jersey” as he signed as a free agent with the team in the summer prior to the 2017-18 season, coming over from the Maple Leafs.

According to the release, Boyle tallied 26 goals and 42 points for the Devils “in 116 games.” After being diagnosed with leukemia prior to the 2017-18 season and fighting back to compete that same season, Boyle was awarded the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy for exemplifying “the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey.” He also represented the Devils in the 2018 NHL All-Star Game in Tampa, replacing an injured Taylor Hall.

According to the press release, the Devils will now have eight selections in the 2019 Draft. They will have all of theirs from rounds four through seven, plus their first round pick, two seconds – theirs and now Nashville’s – as well as Anaheim’s third. Always a good thing to have a stockpile of draft picks.

Ray Shero was quoted as saying “(w)e want to thank Brian for his time here, as he was a big part of helping establish the culture we now have in place. His leadership, dedication and determination served as an inspiration to the entire organization, on and off the ice. We wish him, his wife, Lauren, son; Declan and daughter Isabella the best of luck in Nashville.”

While it is sad to see Boyle go, it is a trade that works for all parties. Nashville gets a proven leader both in the regular season and in the playoffs. Boyle has not missed the playoffs since 2009-10 and has made the playoffs every year since. He has been to two Stanley Cup Finals (2014 with the Rangers and 2015 with the Lightning) and is a proven leader and performer in that tough time of year. The Devils also get a draft pick and get room to get younger while Boyle himself is in a position to win the Stanley Cup for the first time in his career. He goes from a team that is far out of the playoff race to a team that is a legit contender in the West.

Good luck to Brian Boyle as he starts this new chapter in his career.

Devils Acquire Ryan Murphy from Wild

Ray Shero announced today that the Devils have acquired defenseman Ryan Murphy from the Minnesota Wild in exchange for defenseman Michael Kapla.

The 25-year-old Murphy was drafted 12th overall in the first round by Carolina in 2011. He is a native of Aurora, Ontario and spent five seasons in the Hurricanes’ system. He was in his second season in the Minnesota organization where he was playing primarily in the AHL with the Iowa Wild. There he had three goals, 12 assists for 15 points over 35 games according to the press release on the subject. He also has recorded 12 penalty minutes at the AHL level. It also said that he has played two games at the NHL level this season.

The press release also notes that he has played in 174 NHL regular season games and has eight goals and 34 assists (42 points) and 42 penalty minutes at the big league level. The right-shooting d-man has 17 goals and 92 assists (109 points) over 172 AHL regular season games. He was also a 2015 AHL mid-season All-Star. Playoff-wise, according to the press release, he has one Stanley Cup Playoff game under his belt and five Calder Cup games (where he has notched two assists).

Prior to being drafted, the 5-foot, 11-inch, 185-pound blueliner played junior hockey with the Kitchener Rangers of the Ontario Hockey League. He was a member of the OHL All Rookie Team in 2009-10, was twice named to the OHL Second Team All-Star Team (2011-12 and 2012-13) and represented Canada at the 2013 World Junior Championship. All of this information comes directly from the Devils’ press release.

Murphy will report to Binghamton of the AHL where, in a bit of a lateral move, he will replace Kapla. Kapla, 24-years-old, “was in his first full season with the Devils organization.” According to the press release, he had a goal and 15 assists for 16 points with the AHL Devils.

Devils Pick Up Patrick Maroon From Edmonton

The Devils were not done being buyers at the trade deadline before its end at 3 PM today. They sent a third round pick in the 2019 NHL Draft and the rights to JD Dudek, who is currently at Boston College (the Devils’ fifth pick, 152nd overall in 2014) to the Edmonton Oilers for Patrick Maroon.

Maroon, a left winger, has 14 goals and 30 points in a total of 57 games this year. Now, the main issue is that the Devils have a glut of left wings in their lineup. But, as many have pointed out, newly-acquired Michael Grabner can also play right wing, which would give the team some depth there and get some of the guys like Jimmy Hayes or Drew Stafford, who have not had as good production this year as the team would like, out of the lineup.

Maroon, a 6-foot, 3-inch, 225-pound St. Louis native does have a fair amount of playoff experience despite being in just his sixth NHL season. The 29-year-old, in his time with the Anaheim Ducks and the Oilers, has 12 goals and 26 points in 42 Stanley Cup playoff games. His playoff history includes going to the second round with Anaheim in 2014, the Western Conference Finals with the Ducks in 2015 and the second round last year with the Oilers.

He did play with Taylor Hall in Edmonton for a few months, having been traded there on February 29, 2016 from Anaheim for Martin Gernat and a fourth round pick 2016 Draft that became Jack Kopacka.

Maroon played one year with the London Knights of the Ontario Hockey League – in which he notched 90 points (35 goals and 55 assists according to the Devils’ press release). Maroon was then taken by the Flyers in the sixth round of the 2007 NHL Draft, 161st overall.

This is a move to give the Devils some playoff fortitude. Maroon has had some success in the playoffs and the Devils are showing that they are going for broke by giving up some assets to get pieces for the playoffs. They want to make the playoffs and, hopefully go far – although I am sure management is realistic about the team’s chances to the win a Stanley Cup.

Factor in that they only gave up essentially a second rounder, a third rounder, Yegor Rykov and JD Dudek for Michael Grabner and Patrick Maroon. That is getting things ready for a playoff run in the now and it is good to see the Devils strike when they are hot.

The Devils are now all in about making a run at the postseason. This move only makes them stronger.

Note: photo at the top of this post is via SI.com.

Hell Freezes Over: Devils Acquire Grabner From Rangers

It took 35 years, but the New York Rangers finally made a deal with the Devils. The Devils tonight acquired forward Michael Grabner from New York in exchange for a second round pick in the 2018 Draft and the rights to Yegor Rykov, a defenseman (picked in the fifth round, 132nd overall, in the 2016 Draft) currently playing for SKA St. Petersburg of the KHL.

According to the Devils’ press release, GM Ray Shero made the announcement that the 30-year-old Grabner had been secured. He has 25 goals and 31 points in 59 games this season with his goal output leading the Rangers and his points ranking fourth. He is playing in his ninth NHL season (played with Vancouver, the Islanders, Toronto and the Rangers – he now makes the metropolitan area trifecta having played for the Isles, Rangers and Devils). The 6-foot, 1-inch, 190 pound native of Villach, Austria was Vancouver’s first pick (14th overall) in the 2006 Draft.

He has 156 goals and a total of 244 points in 532 NHL career games. He also has 92 penalty minutes and is in the final season of a two-year contract according to the press release. He will make $1.65 million this season.

He has represented Austria internationally, according to the press release, at the 2005 World Junior Championship, 2012 World Championship and the 2014 Olympics. Grabner played junior hockey with the Spokane Chiefs of the Western Hockey League “and played in the 2006 CHL Top Prospects Game.”

Although he is likely a rental for the playoff push at this rate and Shero has said in the past that he would gladly make deals with the Rangers if it improved the team, this is still a little bit jarring. It is great to have a player like Grabner on board as he will add scoring on a team that has not been getting much of it consistently outside of Taylor Hall.

The big question is Rykov. He is a good prospect, but if he never comes over from Russia, the Devils will not have lost much. If he does, then….

Either way, the Devils have some help for the playoff push and history has certainly been made. I do not think that this will become a habit, but I do think that both teams will benefit from it – especially if the Devils make the postseason.

Devils and Ducks Make Deal

The Devils have acquired some help on the blue line in the form of Sami Vatanen from the Anaheim Ducks. They today announced that they have sent Adam Henrique, Joseph Blandisi and their 2018 third round pick west to the Ducks in exchange for the defenseman and a conditional third round pick.

The conditions of the pick are, according to the press release put out on the Devils’ website:

⦁ “If Anaheim signs Henrique to a new Standard Player Contract for 2019-20 prior to their own third-round pick of the 2019 Draft, Anaheim will transfer their own third-round pick in the 2019 Draft to New Jersey.”
⦁ “If Anaheim signs Henrique to a new Standard Player Contract for 2019-20  after their own third-round pick of the 2019 Draft, Anaheim will transfer their  own third-round pick in the 2020 Draft to New Jersey.”
⦁ “If Henrique does not re-sign with Anaheim, no pick will be exchanged.”

The Devils needed help on the back end and Ray Shero had this to say about the deal: “In acquiring Sami, we bring on a right shot, top-four defenseman who can play in all situations. This move also gives us contract certainty on the back end for the next two-plus years.” Vatanen is “in the second year of a four year, $19.5 million dollar contract ($4,875,000 AAV)” according to the press release.

Shero also added: “When acquiring a defenseman like Vatanen, you have to give back quality assets or players in return. That is the case in this situation with Adam and Joe. Adam has been a key member of our organization for nearly ten years since he was drafted. His contributions both on and off the ice will always be appreciated by our organization and fans. For Joe, this is a great opportunity with a quality organization like Anaheim and I am happy for him.” Shero was, of course referring primarily to Henrique’s overtime goal in game six against the Rangers in the 2012 Eastern Conference Final when he mentioned “on ice contributions.” That one goal will cement ‘Rico’s’ legacy in Devils lore forever.

Shero complimented the Devils’ depth in the forward ranks, saying “This also says a great deal about our other forwards in Binghamton and those who have taken the next step in New Jersey. I am excited (as) they continue to push and provide us quality depth and competition from within.”

So what are the Devils getting in return? Vatanen is 26 years-old and a native of Jyvaskyla, Finland. He was the Ducks’ fifth selection (taken in the fourth round) pick in the 2009 Draft – taken 106th overall. The press release notes that he was taken by Anaheim in the same draft class that they took current-Devil Kyle Palmieri. He has represented Finland in the 2016 World Cup of Hockey, 2014 Winter Olympics, 2010 and 2011 World Junior Championship and 2010 World Championship. He currently has one goal and three assists in 15 games (missing the first nine games of the 2017-18 season recovering from shoulder surgery he had in the off season).

He “finished second in scoring among Ducks defensemen last season, and led all Ducks defensemen the two years prior to that.” The press release also says that he “finished third on the Ducks in time-on-ice each of the past four seasons.” In four-plus seasons with the Ducks, he has played in 280 NHL regular season games. In that time, heas has 33 goals and 93 assists (126 points), 116 penalty minutes and a plus-22 rating. He has also played in 40 playoff games with five goals and 17 assists (22 points) and 18 penalty minutes. He is a smaller d-man at 5-feet, 10-inches tall and 126-pounds. All of the above information comes from the press release.

The defenseman, who played his pre-North American career with JyP Jyvaskyla of the Finnish league, will report to the Devils in Colorado as they get set to take on the Avalanche in Denver tomorrow. He will wear number 45.

While it is always sad to see someone like Henrique, who had become such an entrenched part of the Devils and Blandisi, who seems to have such a great upside, go, the Devils needed to do what they could to get some help on the back end. With Mirco Mueller going down with injury, an already weak spot for New Jersey was made even weaker. Vatanen will fill gaps as, it was noted by Shero, he can play in any situation, something the Devils were kind of limited with the current defense corps as they stood.

Good luck to Adam Henrique and Joseph Blandisi in Anaheim and welcome to New Jersey Sami Vatanen.

Devils Obtain Johansson for Picks

So, yesterday there was a segment of the fanbase who was a little bit upset about the Devils not improving enough on the opening of free agency. Today, Ray Shero reminded fans why he is considered one of the smartest men in hockey.

The Devils acquired former Washington Capital forward Marcus Johansson for two 2018 draft picks – the Florida Panthers’ second round pick (which the Devils acquired for Marc Savard, an all but retired-from-concussions-player whose contract was only taken on to reach the cap floor) and the Toronto Maple Leafs’ third round pick (which New Jersey got as compensation for the Leafs hiring of Lou Lamoriello).

Johansson is 26 years old, a seven year pro and a native of Landskrona, Sweden. Last year he had a career high in points with 58 (coming off of 24 goals and 34 assists) according to the Devils’ press release. The press release notes that five of those goals were game winners and two were overtime goals. He played in all 82 games last season. Those 58 points put him fourth on a stacked Washington team in scoring (behind only Nicklas Backstrom, Alex Ovechkin and Evgeny Kuznetsov – not a bad lineup there – he finished only one point behind Kuznetsov to boot).

The left-shooting winger gives the Devils some pop in the offensive category, somewhere the team has been lacking in for a long time. He had just signed a three-year, $13.75 million contract with the Caps last year. The contract has an average annual value of $4.58 million.

Although the team still has some holes in varying places, this helps them along very nicely. They certainly benefitted from the Capitals early exit in this year’s Stanley Cup playoffs, as Washington has been retooling and did not see Johansson as part of their future plans.

Speaking of the playoffs, he has obviously played a lot of playoff games for the Caps in recent years and since 2011, he has nine goals and 21 assists for 30 points in 69 games along with six penalty minutes. Two of those goals came on the power play.

One of the main reasons that the team went after Johansson was his possession stats. If you are familiar with Corsi, he has a 49.7 Corsi for percentage at even strength throughout his career according to Hockey-Reference.com. Similarly he has a 49.4 Fenwick for percentage at even strength. These stats basically measure how much his team controls the puck when this player is on the ice. This plays into John Hynes’ wish for the team to be a strong puck possession squad.

But no matter if you are into analytics or the eye test, there is no denying that Marcus Johansson is a good player. He will make the Devils’ offense, which has struggled to say the least (they finished third from the bottom in goals for – behind only the Avalanche, who were historically bad last year, and the Canucks – with only 183), that much better.

And all this for only two acquired picks.