Today was the NHL’s Trading Deadline at 3 PM ET and the Devils, although not very active, did make a move.
The team traded forward Nate Schnarr, who was acquired from the Arizona Coyotes back on December 16, 2019, to the Montreal Canadiens. He had played in the American Hockey League for the Devils with the Binghamton Devils (2019-20 and 2020-21) and the Utica Comets (2021-22) and had a total of 26 points, including 13 goals and 13 assists over 43 games.
In return, they received goaltender Andrew Hammond. Hammond will report to the Devils as per the Devils’ PR department.
Hammond, 34-years-old, played in four games this season at the NHL level for the Habs, going 3-0-0 with a .920 save percentage and a 2.40 goals against average.
His NHL career has spanned 60 games since 2013-14 and all of his experience comes while with the Ottawa Senators. He played in Ottawa until 2016-17 and went 30-15-6 over his time there.
His career high in wins is 20 in a season (he was 20-1-2 in 2014-15. That season, he also had a .941 save percentage and a 1.79 GAA.
Before this season, his last NHL game played was with the Colorado Avalanche in 2017-18 when he got in one game – which was recorded as a victory.
He has logged a lot of time in the AHL with the Binghamton Senators, the Belleville Senators, the San Antonio Rampage, the Rochester Americans, the Iowa Wild and the Laval Rocket.
The big (6-foot, 2-inch, 215-pound) goaltender was born in Surrey, British Columbia and played collegiately at Bowling Green State University (2009-10 to 2012-13) prior to going undrafted and signing as a free agent with the Sens on March 20, 2013. With Bowling Green, he recorded 30 wins over his career in the NCAA.
The man who came to be known as “the Hamburglar” during his big season with the Senators in 2014-15 will wear number 35 for the Devils.
This trade was to simply get someone to play goal at the NHL level with Jon Gillies while allowing Nico Daws the opportunity to go back to Utica and allow time to develop as a professional netminder.
Keeping in mind that Jonathan Bernier has been lost for the season to hip surgery and that Mackenzie Blackwood is still struggling with the aftereffects of his heel surgery from over this past summer and you can see exactly why General Manager Tom Fitzgerald felt he “owed his team” this trade.
In addition, rumors have hit via NHL insiders on television and Twitter that Blackwood’s relationship with the Devils organization has become somewhat strained over the course of this season due to the injury recovery and the overall handling of it and other reasons.
It was because of that that Blackwood was said to have been put on the trading block by the Devils. Although his current injury status may have hampered things a bit in actually making a deal. Or the Devils simply want to give Blackwood one more go at it and see if anything can be salvaged.
Hopefully, now Daws does not get rushed on his way to the NHL and can mature at his own pace while still having experience at the big-league level. He will also now be involved in a playoff race as well as a potentially deep playoff run in the AHL with the Comets.
These are building blocks that he and Akira Schmid can use in their path to becoming full time NHL goaltenders.
For now, Hammond and Gillies will serve largely as stopgaps for the Devils until the goalie situation can once again be sorted out this offseason.
In other news around the Devils, Miles Wood skated “in his first full-participation practice” today with the Devils according to Catherine Bogart.
Wood has not played a game for New Jersey since undergoing hip surgery back in the latter stages of the preseason of this season.
He said to Bogart that he “had this week circled on the calendar on when he expected to come back to practice.”
For the time being, Wood had been skating for the last three or four months with fellow injured Devils forward Tyce Thompson. He and Thompson had been working together, so Wood admitted that a he has not gotten reads down on things like 3-on-2 odd man rushes and other in-game timing events that Wood feel he can only get in a full practice.
Bogart said that Wood had returned to Devils practice on March 11 when he was in a no-contact jersey. Today was his first full-contact, full participation on-ice activity, however.
Wood, according to Bogart, is now looking to “make his 2021-22 season debut” but that “[i]n the mean time, Wood’s presence will bring more energy and excitement around the Devils.”
The Devils and head coach Lindy Ruff will certainly welcome Wood’s speed on the ice and leadership both on and off the ice when the time comes for him to return to the lineup.
And, in one final note from today’s practice for the Devils, the team showed support on World Down Syndrome Day by wearing mismatched socks to stand in solidarity.
Each player wore a regular red sock with the Devils’ traditional white-black-white striping and one solid black sock in recognition of the day.
Bogart wrote on the “Inside the Devils Blog” that two mismatched socks are “a nod to how chromosomes and socks look similar, and those with Down Syndrome have three copies of Chromosome 21.” This is also “a part of the ‘Rock Your Socks’ campaign to bring awareness and start conversations around the world.”
Janne Kuokkanen told Bogart that “[i]t’s a great thing to do, we respect everyone and that shows that we’re really (supporting) people.”
Ruff added “[t]o have the socks on and honor that and to be respectful, I thought it was a great job done by our team.”
Bogart mentioned that this is just the latest in the line of “various causes” and events that the Devils have celebrated including Gender Equality, Black History Month and the Chinese Lunar New Year. In addition, there are also events such as Hockey Fights Cancer and Pride Night held throughout the season across the NHL.
Wood, in his return to practice, said “[t]hroughout the whole year, the jerseys we’ve had in the pre-game skates, it’s great to see our organization is on the side of those causes, it’s certainly nice to show our support.”
Ruff continued: “I think we all have to feel that we’re pretty fortunate to do what we do. To respect the jersey in different ways and help support other people and situations throughout the year, it’s been awesome to see the guys. They’ve basically wrapped arms around anything that we’ve thrown at them so from a management or coach standpoint, it’s something you want to see your team do.”
And that is the news wrap up for Trade Deadline Day. Although admittedly not too in-depth (which is understandable since some of the New Jersey skaters who were rumored to be moved today such as defensemen PK Subban and Damon Severson and forwards Pavel Zacha and Jimmy Vesey survived the day as Devils), we will be back tomorrow for you with coverage of the Devils as the New York Rangers cross the Hudson River and the rivalry resumes.
See you then!