Ahead of the 3 PM NHL trading deadline, the Devils unloaded some young players who have not lived up to their potential so far and one oft-traded veteran who can make his new team stronger and net the Devils some draft picks and a solid fourth liner.
First the Devils sent defenseman Eric Gelinas to the Colorado Avalanche for a third round pick in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft. Gelinas is a big d-man with a hard shot from the point who has been in and out of the lineup for the Devils this season. The pick the Devils obtained could be used in a future package or they could hold on to it and see what they can convert it into.
The Avs receive a big body, as mentioned, but a player who can be a little bit spotty defensively. The Devils have seen it first-hand that Gelinas can make some mistakes that can cost. But overall, he is a good point man to have on your power play and can play physically when needed.
New Jersey also sent Lee Stempniak (who has been traded at the deadline four of the last six years) to the Boston Bruins for a fourth round pick in 2016 and a second round pick in 2017. Stempniak has seen a resurgence to his career this season. The Devils were able to parlay a player signed on a professional tryout into two really good draft positions.
What Boston gets is a guy who had been producing for the Devils, he was the Devils’ leading scorer in the absence of Michael Cammalleri. He can be a good piece for a Bruins team that feels it is a contender going into the playoffs. The Devils, again, get draft picks to stockpile and play with.
The third deal made by general manager Ray Shero was sending forward Stefan Matteau to the Montreal Canadiens for Devante Smith-Pelly. Matteau was another young player who, like Gelinas, could benefit from a change of scenery. Matteau, it could be argued, was never given much of a chance to crack the lineup in New Jersey. However, in the chances he was given, he did not produce. He was rushed into the lineup a few years ago when he was eighteen, but not consistently used following that.
The Devils get Devante Smith-Pelly in return. Smith-Pelly is a good fourth liner who can score. He is a restricted free agent at the end of the year, but the Devils get a solid player for one who is seen as an underachiever so far.
It is possible for Matteau to flourish in Montreal. Sometimes a change of view is all that it takes for a younger player. Smith-Pelly helps the Devils firm up their fourth line and could be a good acquisition for Shero.
One other move the Devils made was claiming defenseman David Warsofsky off of waivers from the Pittsburgh Penguins. The 25-year-old has played in 12 games with Pittsburgh and 17 with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton this season. He has a goal with the NHL club and two goals and four assists in the AHL.
He is another “Pittsburgh connection” pickup for Shero and coach John Hynes. Hynes actually coached Warsofsky in 2007-08 with the USA Hockey National Team Development Program under-18 team.
Overall, this is was a relatively successful day of trades for the Devils. Remember, last year they flipped Jaromir Jagr to Florida for a draft pick that essentially became Kyle Palmieri, so a lot can be done when teams acquire a good amount of picks. While it is always a little bittersweet to see players go (Stempniak, you really have to feel for as he seemed to have finally found a home here in Jersey), the return is what is important and with the picks and Devante Smith-Pelly, they have seemingly gotten some good things in return.