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.

New Deals for Helgeson, Matteau and Larsson

Devils General Manager Ray Shero and company have been busy of late wrapping up some contracts for the team’s restricted free agents: defensemen Seth Helgeson and Adam Larsson and forward Stefan Matteau.

Helgeson signed to a two-year contract. The contract is a two-way deal in 2015-16 worth $575,000 at the NHL level and $75,000 in the AHL and a one-way deal in 2016-17 worth $600,000 that season. This information comes from the Devils press release.

The 24-year-old defenseman spent most of last year split between New Jersey and Albany. With the A-Devils, he had 2 goals, 10 assists for 12 poitns and 58 penalty minutes over 49 games. With the NHL Devils, he had 3 goals, 19 assists for 22 points and 160 penalty minutes over 22 games. The 6 foot 4 inch, 215-pound blueliner from Faribault, Minnesota played four seasons at the University of Minnesota and was a member of the WCHA’s All-Academic Team in 2012 and 2013. The Golden Gophers went to the NCAA Frozen Four in 2012 with him on the squad. He was the Devils’ fourth pick (114th overall) in the 2009 NHL Draft. (Again, all info comes from the Devils website).

Matteau was re-signed to a two-year contract worth $612,500 a year. The 21-year-old, who was the Devils’ first pick (29th overall) in the 2012 Entry Draft, also split last year between the A-Devils and New Jersey. His AHL numbers show 12 goals, 15 assists for 27 points and 40 penalty minutes (tied for sixth in Albany). In Jersey, he registered one goal and four penalty minutes in seven NHL matches. The 6-foot 2-inch 220 pound, Chicago-born forward made his debut with the big club in 2013 for a handful of games prior to returning to the QMJHL. His NHL totals are 25 goals, 28 assists for 53 points over 24 games. He represented Team USA at the World Junior Championships in 2014 and was named to last year’s World Championships team, but missed the tournament due to an injury.

In terms of NHL experience, none of the players have more than Adam Larsson, who was signed to a six-year $25 million contract (worth about $4,166,667 a year) on Saturday, July 25. This avoids arbitration for the restricted free agent.

The 22-year-old native of Skelleftea, Sweden was picked fourth overall in the 2011 Entry Draft by the Devils and led all Devils defensemen last season with 21 assists and 24 points in 65 games. All three of those categories were also career bests for Larsson. Larsson spent 2012-13 and 2013-14 between New Jersey and Albany after spending all of 2011-12 with the NHL club. He had two goals, 18 points in 65 games for that team, which went to the Stanley Cup Finals but lost in six to the Kings.

GM Shero told that the team has “only scratched the surface of the kind of player he’s going to be.” He also said that Larsson “played a lot of ice time on the (penalty kill) and 5-on-5. He hasn’t had the chance to play a lot on the power play, yet.”

Of course, much of his development has been attributed to the coaching of Scott Stevens, who is not with the team anymore. Hopefully, Larsson’s development can continue along and he can reach the levels that the team knows he can.

With these players locked up, the Devils look to move towards training camp knowing who they have under contract and can begin the process of preparing for the upcoming year.

All three are exceptional players and will look to make an impact for the Devils in 2015-16.