December 2, 2019 • NEW JERSEY DEVILS NEWS & CLIPS
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The Devils will face-off against the Sabres tonight at 7:00 PM ET, looking to build off of their 4-0 loss to their cross-river rival NY Rangers on Saturday.
Andy Greene will suit up for the 892nd time in his career for the Devils, tying him with Scott Niedermayer for 7th place all-time Devils franchise games played.
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- New York Rangers, New Jersey Devils put rivalry aside for a special photo
By Frank Curto, Elite Sports NY
Hockey Fights Cancer has been celebrated throughout the month of November, so it was fitting that two rivals in the tri-state area put their differences aside for a moment to pay homage to a former coach and veteran NHL Player.
Being #hockeyfightscancer month in the NHL @MacBlackwood1 I thought we would take the opportunity to thank our former coach Dale Hawerchuk for everything he did to help us live out our NHL dreams.He is in the fight of his life and we ask you to keep him in your prayers
Preceding the Rangers’ 4-0 victory over the Devils at the Prudential Center on Saturday, Lemieux tweeted a picture of himself with Blackwood, which said:
“Being #hockeyfightscancer month in the NHL
@MacBlackwood1 [and] I thought we would take the opportunity to thank our former coach Dale Hawerchuk for everything he did to help us live out our NHL dreams. He is in the fight of his life and we ask you to keep him in your prayers”
Both players played for Hawerchuk with Barrie of the Ontario Hockey League.
Hawerchuk coached the Barrie Colts beginning in 2010 until September of this year when he was forced to step down due to his stomach cancer diagnosis.
Talking to Tim Campbell of NHL.com last month, Hawerchuk spoke about how he has been dealing with the treatment.
“It really strips you down,” Hawerchuk told NHL.com earlier this month. “You feel like, man, you don’t know if you’re going to make it, the chemo hits you so hard. But I’m still young and they’re telling me everything else is good, all my organs are good, so I should be able to fight this.”
Hawerchuk played 17 seasons in the NHL for four different organizations, Winnipeg, Buffalo, Philadelphia and St. Louis.
He was named NHL Rookie of the Year (Calder Trophy) in 1981-82 and was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2001.
- Devils’ Jack Hughes out again on Monday vs. Sabres
By Chris Ryan, NJ Advanced Media
Hughes was not on the ice with a handful of Devils at a limited practice on Sunday at Prudential Center in Newark, and he did not travel with the team to Buffalo later in the day.
He remains day-to-day and has not been ruled out of Tuesday’s home game against the Vegas Golden Knights.
Hughes was injured when he blocked a shot in Thursday’s 6-4 win over the Montreal Canadiens. The rookie was in considerable pain on the bench following the play, but he never went back to the locker room before finishing the game. He missed Saturday’s 4-0 home loss to the Rangers.
The Devils will open December play with Monday’s game against the Sabres, following a 7-7-1 run in November.
While it was an improvement from their 2-5-3 stretch in October, the Devils didn’t improve their positioning in the standings, still sitting third lowest in the Eastern Conference in terms of points percentage.
The team did its job in November road games, going 5-3-0 in games away from Newark, but they continued to spin their tires at home, winning just twice in seven games. Four of five losses came in regulation.
- PREVIEW: Devils at Sabres
Devils look to bounce back from Saturday’s setback against the Buffalo Sabres
by Catherine Bogart and Marc Ciampa, newjerseydevils.com
The Devils have a quick stop in Buffalo as the first half of back-to-back games as they face the Sabres tonight.
You can watch the game within the Devils region on MSG+ or listen on the Devils Hockey Network.
Read the game preview below and check back for lineup updates, our Pre-Game Report, videos and much more.
YOUR GAME-DAY ESSENTIALS
GAME DAY VIDEO
COMING SOON – DEVILS:60 | Amanda Stein reports on the key storylines prior to tonight’s game around 1:30 PM ET today
COMING SOON – Devils Pre-Game Interviews
COMING SOON – PRE-GAME RAW | Devils Head Coach John Hynes
BY THE NUMBERS
TV & RADIO
You can watch tonight’s game within the Devils region on MSG+.
You can listen to tonight’s game on the Devils Radio Network.
INSIDE THE DEVILS
Devils news and notes from the past few days.
BUFFALO, NY – Check back around 1:30 PM ET for a full pre-game report.
— Catherine Bogart, NewJerseyDevils.com
DEVILS (9-12-4) at SABRES (12-10-5)
TV: 7:00 p.m. ET; Televised on MSG+
Tonight’s game is the second of three meetings between the two teams this season.
The Devils visited Buffalo in their second game of the season, losing 7-2. Jack Eichel and Rasmus Dahlin each had three points in that game.
Last year, the Devils took two out of three between the two clubs. Travis Zajacled the Devils with four points in three games against the Sabres while Andy Greene, Kyle Palmieri and Miles Wood each had three points.
Devils team scope:
The Devils have dropped four of their last six games including a 4-0 decision to the New York Rangers at home this past Saturday.
Coleman has been on fire as of late, with four goals and six points in his last six games.
Sabres team scope:
The Sabres started this season very well, at 9-2-1. Since then, they’ve struggled a bit with only three wins in their last 15 games (3-8-4).
More recently, Buffalo has picked up points in four of its last five (2-1-2).
Jack Eichel leads the team in both goals (16) and points (35) while rookie Victor Olofsson is second with 10 goals and 20 points through 27 games.
By the Numbers:
The Sabres are actually pacing eight points behind last season at this time when they were 17-7-3 through 27 games. Following their 27th game, they only won 16 games the entire rest of the season over 45 contests. (16-32-7) and finished the year with 76 points.
Devils are one point behind their pace of last season through 27 games. They’re only two points behind the pace of last year’s Stanley Cup champion St. Louis Blues, however.
Sabres – Matt Hunwick (neck) is on IR; Vladimir Sobotka (knee) is on IR; Kyle Okposo (concussion) is on IR; Tage Thompson (upper body) is on IR; Rasmus Dahlin (concussion) is doubtful; Evan Rodrigues (undisclosed) is questionable
- PODCAST: That Time Sami Vatanen Got Teemu Selanne’s Car Towed
by Marc Ciampa, newjerseydevils.com
For the ninth episode of the Devils Official Podcast, our guest is Sami Vatanen .
Vatanen is from Finland and talks a lot about growing up in his native country. He also touches on his golf game and has a funny story regarding the time that Teemu Selanne leant him a car.
Growing up in a winter country like Finland, Sami Vatanen talked about having to play hockey outdoors until he was much older.
“I think I was five when I first started to skate. Team practices and everything was outside until maybe 12, 13, 14 I think was the first time when you had a chance to go, like indoors to practice and like that,” said Vatanen. “So it was an outdoor sport back home.”
Vatanen appreciated the consistency once he was able to start playing indoors.
“You didn’t have to worry about snowing or if it was too cold. So it was pretty nice to play inside at that time when you didn’t have to cancel anything.”
Vatanen also talked about his team with the Anaheim Ducks, which included being teammates with NHL legends Teemu Selanne and Saku Koivu.
“I had a chance to speak Finnish with them and if I didn’t understand something, they were always ready to help me and they helped me find my place there. And Teemu loaned me a car,” Vatanen began, going into his story.
“Yeah, he loaned me a car and I think when we left it — it might’ve been to the Olympics — we left the car in our parking garage in our building, and then when we came back we couldn’t find it. It was towed away. So funny story there too,” he laughed.
“We didn’t want to drive all the way downstairs in our spot, so we were a little lazy.”
- SUNDAYS WITH STAN: Doug Carpenter’s Last Stand
by Stan Fischler, special to newjerseydevils.com
You couldn’t tell by the start of the 1986-87 National Hockey League season that head Devils coach Doug Carpenter was in trouble.
Matter of fact, the robust Redhead seemed to be in super shape as training camp opened. As the folks were saying in East Rutherford, Red was just breezin’ along with the breeze. The Man was in command.
For starters, Doug replaced exited aide, Lou Vairo, with a pair of his own pals, Ron Smith and Bob Hoffmeyer. Those changes solidified Carpenter’s hold on his general staff.
Meanwhile,the media stayed right on the coach’s bandwagon, especially the key broadsheet daily that mattered most, the Newark Star-Ledger. Examining the bench boss’ hold on his club, the newspaper’s headline said it all:
THERE’S NO DOUBT ABOUT IT; DEVILS ARE CARPENTER’S TEAM.
What made that statement so valid was the most important element in the coach’s thinking — victories. And the wins were flowing like water drifting down the Hudson River.
Not only were the Devils putting up a W here and a W there but after 30 games the hockey writers were talking up Doug as a candidate for the Jack Adams Award for Coach of the Year.
But the season was not even half over and a warhorse such as Carpenter knew that early season skirmishes do not a major victory make. When folks would pat him on the back for his team being in the playoff race, he’d reply:
“We’re not really satisfied. I’ll be satisfied when we’re in first place. Even then I won’t be fully satisfied until we win the whole thing. Then, I’ll be happy and content for two weeks.”
For two months everything was honky-dory. But the second half of the season would put Carpenter and his stickhandlers to the test.
By late December 1986, the Devils actually had moved six points ahead of the reviled Rangers. Plus, the Islanders were only two points ahead of New Jersey. That was the good news. The bad news would come.
Once the new year got underway, Carpy’s cautionary words that he had uttered back in Autumn now boomeranged on the team in mid-Winter. At Byrne Arena there were signals that read S.O.S.
Winless in seven games, the Devils watched the Rangers pass them as New Jersey sank into fifth place. Alas, there would be no homestretch rally just a disheartening 5-13-1 March-April mark dropping them out of the playoff run.
Not that it was any solace to Carpenter, but his supporters noted significant gains. There were, in fact, enough pluses to solidify his position heading into 1987-88. Really, what mattered was what Doc Mac thought.
McMullen couldn’t have been unhappy about his club setting a record for most points in a season, with 64; nor most wins in a single campaign, 29; not to mention most home wins, 20.
Then there were individual gains made by previous Draft picks. Kirk Muller, for one, hit a career-high with 26 goals and 76 points. John MacLean wound up with a career-high 31 goals.
Then there was The Comeback Kid, Pat Verbeek. Following his near career-ending farm accident, the tough hombre on wing tied a team mark with 35 goals while establishing himself has an impressive pint-sized power forward.
Even special teams glowed. When g.m Max McNab traded Tim Higgins for Claude Loiselle he got a savvy defensive forward who killed penalties as well as anyone in the league. Ditto for his P.K. partner Andy Brickley.
McMullen: “What’s happening is that management and the coaching staff are maturing at the same time that our players are maturing. The team is starting to be put together with real Devils people.
“The challenges are there and we have to rise up to them. The ultimate goal is to make the playoffs and get a shot at The Stanley Cup. You can’t be satisfied with a season where you didn’t make the playoffs.”
Those last five words — “…you didn’t make the playoffs” — had to leave Doug Carpenter with only one thought worth two words:
LISTS: FOUR GOOD THINGS ABOUT ANOTHER NON-PLAYOFF SEASON:
- OWNER’S FAITH: Another owner might have canned Carpenter for again missing the post-season. Doc Mac decided to give Carpy another shot.
- GOALTENDING OK: Alain Chevrier and Craig Billington held their own between the pipes. The absence of Glenn (Chico) Resch was not felt.
- FAN BASE: Despite another non-playoff season, the numbers of Devils rooters were growing steadily. Given better results they would grow even faster.
- ADDITON BY SUBTRACTION: Club president Bob Butera resigned on April 24, 1987. That enabled McMullen to search for a first-class hockey executive.
- NJ Devils’ Monday morning (power play) quarterback: Spotlight is on Taylor Hall
by Abbey Mastracco, NHL writer
NEWARK — The storm that brought winds, frozen rain and snow in much of the Midwest and Northeast on Sunday didn’t seem to hit Prudential Center.
The New Jersey Devils managed to escape up to Buffalo before the conditions got too bad, and all coaches made the trip with the team for Monday night’s game.
But how long can anyone keep escaping with the way things are going this season?
The fan base has been livid, calling for the firing of not just head coach John Hynes, but all of his assistants and even, at times, general manager Ray Shero.
Those calls hit a fever pitch Saturday as the Devils were shut out 4-0 by their Hudson River Rival Rangers. They gave up a power play goal and two shorthanded goals, while going 0-for-8 with the man-advantage.
They had nearly nine minutes of power play time in the third period and still didn’t score in their 12th loss of the season. Coaches have been fired for less, but the powers that be in New Jersey appear to be taking the same approach the Washington Nationals took with manager Dave Martinez.
It certainly paid off for the Nats, but will it pay off for the Devils?
Here are a few reasons why the Devils may be inclined to keep Hynes, plus some insight into the Taylor Hall situation, and a look at what they’re up against this week.
Rumors swirl around Taylor Hall
Shortly before that disastrous rivalry game began, a report from TSN’s Pierre LeBrun came out. While the report said Shero is now listening to offers on Hall, it was immediately spun by many fans to mean Hall was asking for a trade. This has been what many feared and presumed since July 1 came and went without Hall signing a long-term extension to stay in New Jersey.
Hall wasn’t happy over the summer when some accused him of wanting out of the Garden State. He’s just as unhappy with that notion now.
“I’ll let my agent speak but I have not asked for a trade,” he said following the loss to New York. “I don’t know what gets out there sometimes.”
Hynes was unaware of the situation, alerted to it well after the game. There have been no discussions about Hall’s contract situation with Shero recently.
“As a coach, it doesn’t change anything for me,” Hynes said. “Those are things that are not controlled. They aren’t controlled by any of the other players in here. I think we’ve always done a good job of, whether it’s a topic like that, or other things, it’s not in the room. Our focus is always on what’s controllable.
“Taylor doesn’t have any control over that.”
Shero and Hall have said they don’t want to answer any more questions regarding the status of contract negotiations.
Two years ago, you couldn’t even bring up the Islanders without bringing up John Tavares’ contract. Last year, it was Sergei Bobrovsky and Artemi Panarin in this same situation with the Columbus Blue Jackets.
But while it’s tough for people like me in the media to ignore, it’s easier for players to ignore since they still have a job to do every night. The Devils believe the leadership core has done a good job of ignoring what people are saying about Hall and Hynes, thanks in large part, to veteran captain Andy Greene and his unflappable demeanor.
“He’s had great years and down years, he’s had different general managers and different coaches, different teammates,” Hynes said. “He’s kind of seen everything at 37.”
Greene and alternate captain Travis Zajac saw this same story play out with Zach Parise in 2012, so they know how to minimize the noise.
Fans always remember
Speaking of Parise, he visited his old team last week. Despite the fact that he’s now spent more time with the Minnesota Wild than he did with the Devils, fans hold grudges and they let him know it every time he touched the puck.
“I don’t get the warmest reception, but it’s a fun place for me,” he said. “It’s not the same feelings I had the first couple of times I came back, but I still love playing in this building. It was a great place to live for a while and I always enjoyed it here.”
Decisions on Hall and Hynes
The Devils have been very tight-lipped when it comes to their decision-making process regarding Hall and Hynes. Some in hockey have wondered if the team has been unwilling to make a coaching change until they know Hall’s decision. Hall has long been high on Hynes, crediting him with helping him win the Hart Trophy.
This is purely speculative, but a few other reasons could be that there aren’t any other options they’re comfortable with taking over the team. Mike Babcock was under fire for some coaching tactics he used past jobs, as are many other coaches as the sport deals with a reckoning of sort over what is and isn’t appropriate in the coaching world. Former Devils assistant coach Geoff Ward was named the interim head coach in Calgary after they fired Bill Peters.
Or, the people in the front office recognize that the talent on the roster isn’t up to par.
Latest on Jack Hughes
The rookie did not make the trip to Buffalo with the Devils. He is considered day-to-day with a lower-body injury, but the team is hopeful for a return Tuesday, against the Vegas Golden Knights.
Vegas brass was on hand for the Battle of the Hudson on Saturday, with general manager Kelly McCrimmon and head coach Gerard Gallant among those who were in Newark to scout two of their next three opponents. They then went to Brooklyn to scout their third opponent of the New York City swing.
Later this week
Friday, the Devils host the Chicago Blackhawks on Friday before beginning a four-game, nine-day road trip next weekend.
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- New Jersey travels to play Eichel and the Sabres
New Jersey Devils (9-12-4, eighth in the Metropolitan Division) vs. Buffalo Sabres (12-10-5, fourth in the Atlantic Division)
Buffalo, New York; Monday, 7 p.m. EST
BOTTOM LINE: Jack Eichel and Buffalo take on New Jersey. Eichel ranks seventh in the league with 35 points, scoring 16 goals and recording 19 assists.
The Sabres are 8-7-3 in Eastern Conference games. Buffalo has converted on 17.9% of power-play opportunities, scoring 15 power-play goals.
The Devils are 6-8-2 in Eastern Conference play. New Jersey averages 9.5 penalty minutes per game, the eighth-most in the NHL. Kyle Palmieri leads the team serving 27 total minutes.
Buffalo defeated New Jersey 7-2 in the last meeting between these teams on Oct. 5. Victor Olofsson scored two goals for the Sabres in the win.
TOP PERFORMERS: Eichel leads the Sabres with 16 goals, adding 19 assists and totaling 35 points. Olofsson has totaled 8 points over the last 10 games for Buffalo.
Taylor Hall leads the Devils with 17 total assists and has recorded 21 points. Blake Coleman has scored six goals over the last 10 games for New Jersey.
LAST 10 GAMES: Devils: 5-5-0, averaging 2.5 goals, 4.1 assists, 3.7 penalties and 8.3 penalty minutes while allowing 2.8 goals per game with a .911 save percentage.
Sabres: 3-4-3, averaging 2.8 goals, 3.9 assists, 4.2 penalties and 10.6 penalty minutes while giving up 3.3 goals per game with a .892 save percentage.
Sabres Injuries: Rasmus Dahlin: out (upper body).
Devils Injuries: Sami Vatanen: out (upper body), Jack Hughes: day to day (lower-body).
- Sabres look to extend recent spurt against beleaguered Devils
by Field Level Media
The Devils will look to bounce back from one of their most discouraging days of the season – and perhaps begin doing their best to convince Hall to remain with the team – when they visit the Buffalo Sabres on Monday night in an Eastern Conference battle.
Both teams were off Sunday after absorbing losses Saturday, when the host Devils were blanked by the New York Rangers, 4-0, and the visiting Sabres completed a back-to-back set against the Toronto Maple Leafs by falling, 2-1, in overtime.
A disappointing loss for the Devils – “highlighted” by the Rangers scoring short-handed goals twice in a span of a little more than three minutes early in the third period – was overshadowed by a TSN report before the game that New Jersey general manager Ray Shero has begun soliciting trade offers for Hall, the left winger who won the Hart Trophy as the NHL’s Most Valuable Player in his second season with the team in 2017-18.
Hall is a free agent after the season and optimism he can reach a deal with the Devils before the summer has softened during a second straight miserable season for New Jersey, which finished last in the Metropolitan Division and is once again in the basement with the second-fewest points in the NHL entering Sunday.
“I’ll let my agent speak but I have not asked for a trade,” Hall told reporters afterward. “I don’t know what gets out there sometimes.”
The Sabres, who haven’t made the playoffs since the 2010-11 season, fell into a familiar funk in November, when they undid a 9-2-2 start – the best in the NHL – by going 3-8-3.
It could have been worse, though, for the Sabres, who beat the Maple Leafs 6-4 on Friday and ended the month by collecting six points in their final five games (2-1-2).
“We started the season well, had the dive there and now we’re getting our game back,” Sabres defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen told reporters after scoring the only goal for Buffalo against the Maple Leafs on Saturday. “We just have to keep going and keep working harder.”
The Devils’ Mackenzie Blackwood is likely to oppose the Sabres’ Carter Huttonin a battle of No. 1 netminders. Blackwood took the loss Saturday, when he stopped 19 shots against the Rangers. Hutton also took the loss Saturday, when he made 41 saves against the Maple Leafs.
Blackwood lost his only career start against the Sabres on Oct. 5, when he made 29 saves as Buffalo cruised to a 7-2 win. Hutton is 4-3-0 in seven games against the Devils.
The game Monday marks the second of three this season between the Sabres and Devils. New Jersey is scheduled to host Buffalo on April 2.
- ‘Founders Night’ celebration to mark 50th anniversary of Sabres’ franchise
BY Mike Harrington, Buffalo News
Dec. 2, 1969.
If you check the history books, it has a famous place in aviation history as the date of the first Boeing 747 jumbo jet preview, with 191 passengers — mostly media — on a flight from Seattle to New York City.
In Buffalo, the date has a much more significant meaning. Monday will mark the 50th anniversary of the date the National Hockey League awarded an expansion franchise to Seymour H. Knox III and his brother, Northrup R. Knox, to be operated in Western New York.
On Dec. 2, 2019, the Sabres will play the New Jersey Devils in KeyBank Center and will celebrate “Founders Night” in tribute to the birth of the franchise.
Family members of both Knox brothers will be on the ice for a pregame ceremony and video presentation. Family members of the original board of directors also will be recognized throughout the night.
There will be a pregame happy hour in the Labatt Blue Zone bar with $5 beer specials, food sampling from corporate partners and live music.
The main pavilion will have a birthday theme. Fans will have the opportunity to take a photo with a Sabres-themed 50th birthday cake and sign a giant birthday card for the team on the 100-level concourse.
It was a multi-year process for the Knox brothers to get an NHL team. Buffalo, remember, was passed over in the 1967 expansion that doubled the NHL from six to 12 teams and created a Western Division of Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, St. Louis, Los Angeles, Minnesota and Oakland.
With attendance lagging in Oakland, the Knox brothers intended to purchase the Seals early in 1969 and planned to move them to Buffalo, but the NHL blocked the move. CBS, which carried NHL games at the time, wanted the lucrative Bay Area television market to remain in the league. And the league was planning more expansion.
The Knoxes eventually landed 20 percent of the Seals as a way to get deeper embedded in the hockey world and push support for an expansion franchise in Buffalo. They paid $6 million to join the Vancouver Canucks as new franchises for the 1970-71 season and were officially branded as the “Sabres” on May 22, 1970.
Neither Buffalo nor Vancouver has won a Stanley Cup in their 50 years, but both teams have come close. The Canucks have been to the Cup final three times, first losing in a sweep to the New York Islanders in 1982 and then dropping a pair of Game 7s, at the New York Rangers in 1994, and at home to Boston in 2011. The Sabres’ two trips ended in Game 6 losses to Philadelphia in 1975 and Dallas in 1999.
Today, both teams are in rebuilding mode. The Sabres are in the NHL’s longest playoff drought, dating to 2011, while the Canucks have missed the posteason for the last four years and have not won a series since their ’11 run to within one game of hockey’s ultimate prize. They will meet Saturday afternoon in Vancouver’s Rogers Arena during Buffalo’s three-game Western road trip.
Injured Hughes out for Devils
As for Monday’s game, the Sabres will meet a New Jersey team that it battered, 7-2, in the home opener on Oct. 5. The Devils are last in the Metropolitan Division at 9-12-4 and will be without No. 1 overall pick Jack Hughes, who sat out Saturday’s 4-0 loss to the Rangers with a lower-body injury.
Hughes was injured when he blocked a shot in Thursday’s win in Montreal and sat out practice Friday. He’s officially listed as day to day. The 18-year-old has four goals, seven assists and a minus-8 rating in 24 games of his rookie season.
The Sabres closed a difficult November by getting points in four of their last five games. The 2-1-2 stretch ended with Saturday’s 2-1 overtime loss in Toronto. It was the fourth straight game stretching past 60 minutes that the Sabres have lost, three on deciding goals and one in a shootout.
All-Star balloting opens
Fan voting is open for NHL All-Star Weekend. For the fifth straight year, fans will determine the four captains for the division teams that will participate in the 3-on-3 tournament Jan. 26 in St. Louis.
Fans can cast votes online at NHL.com/Vote and via the NHL app for one player from each division, without regard to position. Voting concludes at 11:59 p.m. ET on Dec. 20, with the top vote-getters by division named captains.
Fans are permitted to select as few as one player and a maximum of four players per ballot. The maximum number of ballots cast per 24-hour period for each fan is 10.
For the first time, players have the opportunity to earn a donation to the charitable organization of their choice as part of the voting process. The player with the most retweets on Twitter and the player with the most likes on Instagram across all of his posts that use the hashtag #NHLAllStar will each receive a $25,000 donation to the charity of his choice.
Jack Eichel has represented the Sabres in the All-Star Game the last two years. Jeff Skinner joined Eichel for last year’s game in San Jose.
- Five recent in-season trades that could guide the Devils’ decision-making on Taylor Hall
by Corey Masisak, The Athletic
On Saturday afternoon, we received the most concrete evidence to date that the relationship between Taylor Hall and the Devils could be nearing an end. The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun reported that other teams are calling the Devils about the 2018 MVP and general manager Ray Shero is listening.
Plenty could change between now and the Feb. 24 trade deadline, but given where the 9-12-4 Devils are in the NHL standings, it seems unlikely that Hall is still in New Jersey on Feb. 25 without a new contract. It should make Shero one of the most popular GMs in the league in the near future, with his colleagues calling to see what it would cost to add one of the best forwards in the NHL.
LeBrun wrote about the Devils’ situation with Hall, naming six potential suitors. Other clubs could join the list of contenders in the coming days, weeks and/or months. We also dug into what trading Hall would mean for the franchise and what the potential paths forward look like in the aftermath.
What could recent NHL history of trading a star player in the final season of his contract tell us about how the Devils might operate, what they could receive in return and how it might all work out?
Let’s be clear: Whether we look at five trades or 50, the historical examples tell us that it’s hard for the team jettisoning the star player to “win” this type of trade. It is a unique challenge to get another GM in the NHL to yield the large volume of value it takes to win a trade when you are giving up an established, high-end asset.
Sure, a prospect or future draft pick included in the deal can blossom into a star, but the percentages — even for the first-round picks typically associated with these types of trades — are low. Teams that trade away a great player often have to recoup that value in future moves.
Below are five trades comparable to the potential Hall deal. Each of the principle players moved in the examples is a forward in the final year of his contract and relatively close in age to Hall, who just turned 28 last month.
Two noteworthy deals — San Jose’s move for Erik Karlsson and Vegas adding Max Pacioretty — were left out because they happened in September. They might be a reminder (the Pacioretty deal, in particular) of what the Devils might have received had they started this process earlier, but it’s not helpful or applicable in the present. New Jersey was never going to trade Hall before this season after an offseason filled adding high-profile players to the roster.
Feb. 25, 2019
Ottawa trades Mark Stone to Vegas for Erik Brannstrom, Oscar Lindberg and a 2020 second-round pick
The lead up: Ottawa went from overtime in Game 7 of the Conference Finals in 2017 to a historic fire sale two seasons later. The Senators traded Erik Karlsson before the season started, then Matt Duchene, Ryan Dzingel and Stone in a span of four days before the deadline.
The immediate reaction: As The Athletic’s Chris Stevenson wrote, this was a trade the Senators never had a chance to win. Brannstrom is one of the better prospects included in a trade in recent seasons. Corey Pronman of The Athleticranked Brannstrom as the 11th-best defense prospect before the 2018-19 season and No. 42 overall. Pronman placed him in the “Very Good Prospect” tier. Lindberg was a throw-in and is playing in Europe this season. The 2020 pick will come from the Dallas Stars, which projects to be in the 47-62 range.
Despite the return package, Stone is one of the best forwards in the NHL, a rare underrated star. The Golden Knights were also able to talk with Stone’s camp before the trade and had an agreement on an eight-year, $72 million contract the day of the deal.
The Athletic’s Craig Custance gave the Senators a B for this trade, with several NHL talent evaluators telling him Ottawa didn’t get enough for Stone.
The aftermath: This is the most recent mega-deal involving an elite non-center that also compares closely with New Jersey’s situation. At his peak, Hall is up there with Stone and a handful of other wings as the most impactful in the league.
The potential differences are 1) Hall has not performed at his peak through the first 25 games; 2) it’s unclear if a team looking to trade for him will be allowed to negotiate with Hall’s agent; and 3) would Hall even be willing to sign a contract with his new club instead of waiting until July?
Other prospects who are in the same tier as Brannstrom this year include Devils defenseman Ty Smith, Rangers defenseman Adam Fox and 2019 picks Cam York (Philadelphia), Ryan Suzuki (Carolina) and Peyton Krebs (Vegas). If the Devils looked to make a deal where the top asset is a top-50 prospect and not a first-round pick, none of the six teams LeBrun mentioned as potential suitors (Colorado, Calgary, Montreal, Edmonton, Boston, San Jose) have a player in Pronman’s 31-50 range.
San Jose has a divisive, high-ceiling defenseman (Ryan Merkley) at No. 53 and a 2017 seventh-round pick (Ivan Chekhovich) who has shot up to No. 56. Montreal has a couple of elite forwards (Cole Caufield, Nick Suzuki) who likely are untouchable, but also some intriguing depth players like Ryan Poehling (No. 65), Josh Brook (No. 79) and Caden Primeau (No. 4 goalie).
Colorado has untouchables (Cale Makar, Bowen Byram) and one prospect a tier above Brannstrom, Alex Newhook at No. 24. The Avalanche also have a handful of intriguing prospects not in the top 50 who could serve as bait for the Devils. Edmonton has two high-end defensive prospects, Philip Broberg (No. 17) and Evan Bouchard (No. 26).
Boston and Calgary had two of Pronman’s three worst farm systems at the beginning of the year and both of their top prospects were ranked outside the top 100. It’s fair to think those two clubs would need to include a young NHL player and/or multiple high picks to be a strong contender in the Hall sweepstakes.
Feb. 22, 2019
Ottawa trades Matt Duchene and Julius Bergman to Columbus for Vitaly Abramov, Jonathan Davidsson, a 2019 first-round pick and a conditional 2020 first-round pick*
*Pick conditional on Duchene re-signing with Columbus, lottery protected if it’s a top-3 pick.
The lead-up: There was a point just before the trades started happening where it looked like Duchene might be the one to sign and stay in Ottawa. It didn’t work out, and he was the first of the three moved out. The Senators had acquired Duchene 15 months earlier in a now infamous three-team transaction that cost them the No. 4 pick in the 2019 draft (which Colorado used to select Bowen).
The immediate reaction: Custance gave the Senators an A-minus for the deal, noting the risk for the Blue Jackets that became a reality when Duchene ultimately signed with the Predators. Abramov was Pronman’s ninth-ranked prospect in the Ottawa system before this season.
The aftermath: The 2019 first-round pick became Lassi Thomson at No. 19 overall. Thomson was Pronman’s No. 112 prospect in the league in the preseason, a mere 107 spots behind Bowen. Duchene leaving for Nashville erased the second pick, indicating that the Senators should have pushed harder for a draft pick that upgraded to a first if Duchene signed, and not a boom-or-bust addition.
Duchene is not on Stone’s level, but he was in the midst of his first 30-goal, 70-point season and was a coveted No. 1/1A center. If Brannstrom is an A or A-minus level prospect, then this deal included a B-level prospect (Abramov), a C-plus guy (Davidsson), a first-round pick and a lottery ticket. It wouldn’t be surprising if Devils fans were mildly disappointed with this type of return for Hall.
The Blue Jackets went all-in with Duchene (and Dzingel, plus two UFAs of their own, Artemi Panarin and Sergei Bobrovsky). They did stun the mighty Lightning in the playoffs to cap the greatest week in franchise history, but that wasn’t the ultimate payoff they were looking for. And none of those four players are still with the team.
After getting a very disappointing return for Karlsson in September, the Senators did better with the trio of deadline deals. There was an infusion of young talent into the organization with hope for better days ahead.
Feb. 28, 2016
Carolina trades Eric Staal to the Rangers for Aleksi Saarela, a 2016 second-round pick and a 2017 second-round pick
The lead-up: Carolina was eight points out of a playoff spot by early December, but climbed to eighth in the East by mid-January. The Hurricanes were still only four points out when they traded their best player.
The immediate reaction: It was a light return for a player of Staal’s pedigree, but there was one problem — Staal was struggling through what remains his worst season since his rookie year.
The aftermath: Carolina used the 2016 pick in a trade with Chicago to land Teuvo Teravainen less than four months later. The 2017 pick, Luke Martin, did not crack Pronman’s top 27 Hurricanes prospects. Saarella was traded to Chicago this offseason.
The Hurricanes started the season 8-13-4 and, although they clawed back into contention, hanging onto Staal until the deadline didn’t help maximize his value. Staal had one goal and five points in his final 19 games with Carolina. The Hurricanes’ use of one of the picks in the deal for Teravainen is a reminder to hoard assets that can help in a variety of ways in the future.
Staal’s time with the Rangers was brief and he signed with the Wild in the offseason. It took the Hurricanes two more seasons of lingering on the edge of playoff contention before they had a breakthrough in 2018-19.
March 5, 2014
Columbus trades Marian Gaborik to Los Angeles for Matt Frattin, a 2014 second-round pick and a conditional third-round pick
The lead-up: Columbus had traded for Gaborik at the deadline the year before, but he played only 22 games in 2013-14 before the deal. The Blue Jackets were clinging to a playoff spot in the East, but were compelled to move Gaborik, a pending UFA.
The immediate reaction: Given what happened two years prior, it felt like déjà vu. Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen said “(Gaborik) just didn’t fit” the day of the trade.
The aftermath: It was déjà vu. Gaborik went to the Kings, led the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs in goals (14) and helped Los Angeles claim a second championship in three years. He joined Jeff Carter from 2012 as players the Blue Jackets dealt to the Kings just before a Stanley Cup run. Gaborik signed a long-term, below-market deal to stay shortly after that, but his career quickly eroded and he joined a list of debilitating contracts that ushered in a swift end to a potential dynasty in Los Angeles.
During the 2013-14 season, Gaborik played once between Nov. 14 and Feb. 27 for the Blue Jackets. By the time he was healthy, there wasn’t time for him to build much trade value. Columbus traded the second-round pick to Detroit for two picks — one became Elvis Merzlikins in 2014 and one was traded to Anaheim in a deal for William Karlsson the following year. That could have been a heist for Columbus, but ultimately was a boon for Vegas.
The conditional pick ended up as a 2015 second-rounder that originally belonged to Toronto and was traded back to the Maple Leafs. They took Travis Dermott, one spot ahead of Sebastian Aho.
Kekalainen did well in other trades, namely the ones that brought Panarin and Seth Jones to Columbus, which helped build playoff teams in 2017, 2018 and 2019.
Feb. 4, 2010
Atlanta trades Ilya Kovalchuk, Anssi Salmela and a 2010 second-round pick to the Devils for Johnny Oduya, Patrice Cormier, Niclas Bergfors, a 2010 first-round pick and a 2010 second-round pick
The lead-up: After reaching the 2007 playoffs, the Thrashers finished with 76 points each of the next two seasons. They were hanging around the final playoff spot in early February, until Kovalchuk reportedly turned down a 12-year, $101 million contract and ended up on the trading block.
The immediate reaction: LeBrun wrote for ESPN.com that the Devils “had won the Kovalchuk sweepstakes” and compared the deal to the one Lou Lamoriello swung for Alexander Mogilny in 2000.
The aftermath: Adding Kovalchuk didn’t lead to another Stanley Cup championship, but the Devils did return to the Final in 2012. It also led to one of the stickier contract situations in league history, with the NHL rejecting New Jersey’s first attempt and punishing the Devils for attempted salary cap circumvention. The league approved their second try, then Kovalchuk abruptly retired and returned to the KHL in 2013.
The Devils lose $250,000 of cap space in recapture penalties every season through 2025 because of the contract. Oduya, a couple of middling prospects, and two high draft picks created nearly a decent haul for Atlanta, but tossing in a second-round pick with Karlsson made it significantly less valuable.
Atlanta did use the two picks from this trade to help fund a move for Dustin Byfuglien a few months later, though he spent only one season there before the franchise moved to Winnipeg. That first-round pick also became Kevin Hayes, but he never signed with Chicago and instead chose the Rangers after four years in college.
One lesson from this might be to keep the details of contract negotiations internal when a potential $100 million deal is involved. As a result, the Thrashers lost leverage and it hurt their eventual trade price.