Dealing with the Devils: New Jersey Makes Moves at Deadline

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.

Three Players to Change Uniform Numbers for Next Season

When Lou Lamoriello left the New Jersey Devils organization, so too did a long-standing team rule: Mike Cammalieri will become the first Devil to wear the number “13.” Lou had a long-standing tradition of not issuing the number to players. Although the number had never been issued to any players even before Lou arrived in New Jersey, the rule is heavily associated with him. However, this switch will not be alone.

In addition to Cammalleri switching from “23” to “13,” Jordin Tootoo will switch from “20” to his traditional “22” and Eric Gelinas will go from “22” to “44.”

For Tootoo, his number is, obviously, a pun on his last name. He previously wore the number with the Predators and Red Wings. Gelinas will become the first player to wear number “44” since Stephane Richer in his time with the Devils. He wore the number with the Lewiston MAINEiacs of the QMJHL.

Although a handful of Devils have worn higher numbers, including Jaromir Jagr with “68,” Alexander Mogilny with “89” and Doug Gilmour with “93,” another long-standing Lamoriello rule was to not issue “irregular” high numbers. The players mentioned were, of course, some exceptions to the rule, but generally, the team did not issue numbers any higher than the “30s.” In fact, according to Eric Marin in an article at the Devils official website, the team has issued every number between “1” and “35” to players since coming to New Jersey in 1982 (with the previous exception of “13”).

Marin also reports that, although Cammalleri will be the first Devil to wear the number “13,” he will actually be the second player in franchise history to sport the number. Robin Burns, who is the cousin of former Devils coach and Stanley Cup champion, Pat Burns, and who played for the team when they were the Kansas City Scouts from 1974 to 1976, wore the number then.

Cammalleri has worn “13” for Los Angeles, Calgary and Montreal. He wore number “93” in his second stint with Calgary and took “23” when coming to the Devils last year.

Cammalleri told Marin that when he came to New Jersey as a free agent last season, having a conversation about what number he wanted was not even a thought. The team assigned him “23” and that was what he wore.

The team will be having a jersey buyback from August 13 to September 13, 2015 at the Devils Den Team Store at the Prudential Center. There are some restrictions, so check the Devils’ website before going up to make the exchange.

With changes to the team coming at such a rapid pace, fans have to wonder whether a trade with the Rangers or Flyers just might be incoming. Then again, maybe some things never change.