January is coming to a close and February is a short month. With a long Olympic break and a March 3 trade deadline, rumors are already coming about who is and isn't in play and for what team. Given the current slump with the lack of scoring, some fans feel that the Devils should make a trade. Of course, to make a trade, something needs to be given up. For the purposes of convenience, I put together this categorized list of who I think can and can't be traded, as well as everything in between. And when I mean the roster, I mean everyone on the New Jersey Devils' roster per their cap.
Let me put this in bold and italic letters: I am not saying these players will or will not be traded. This is not a place to discuss rumors from constantly wrong sources, nor a means to go and make some rumors up. This is a list of assets so when you make up proposals or talk trades involving New Jersey, you know what you're talking about. Besides, does anyone really know what Lou Lamoriello plans to do for a trade? History says "no, not at all." Please keep that in mind as well. Thank you.
Note: All dollar amounts are the player's cap hit and they all come from CapGeek.
Players who cannot be traded:
Patrik Elias ($6 mil, No Movement Clause); Martin Brodeur ($5.2 mil, No Trade Clause); Brian Rolston ($5 mil, No Trade Clause); Colin White ($3 mil, No Trade Clause); Jamie Langenbrunner ($2.8 mil, No Trade Clause); Jay Pandolfo ($2.5 mil, No Trade Clause).
Among this group, I'm sure Rolston, White, and Pandolfo would receive the most general criticism. While I would agree Rolston and Pandolfo are getting paid too much for their performances, I actually think White has been pretty solid. It's been his usual partner, Mike Mottau, who gets exposed when makes an error - especially recently, so I don't hate his deal. Either way, they aren't going anywhere so don't bring them up.
Though if you'd like, you can count the days until they become UFAs, which will be after 2010-11 for Pandolfo, after 2011-12 for White and Rolston. The other three, I have no idea would you want to see Elias, Brodeur, or Langenbrunner moved.
Players with significant contracts so they won't likely be moved:
There's no way the Devils will trade Zajac or Parise. None. First and foremost, they're too good to give to another team. If you think the offense has been bad recently, imagine it without either of these two (and Langenbrunner). Zajac was signed for a significant amount of money this past summer, and Parise's due to become a RFA after next season. If anything, moves be made to clear up space to retain Parise for a long time. All the same, they are Devils for the foreseeable future.
Since Oduya has not had a good season as last season, I doubt anyone would want to pick him up at $3.5 million per year through 2011-12. He has the skills, but the results just aren't there. Zubrus is a useful player, but he doesn't produce enough points on offense to justify that salary. I doubt there will be many willing to eat that much money. Salvador has had a good season defensively; however, he'll turn 34 before the Olympics, he's primarily a defensive defenceman, he's not all that quick, and he's on the books through 2011-12. I don't think there will be many teams interested in him as a result.
Players with expiring contracts could make for attractive trade assets:
Pending UFAs: Paul Martin ($3.887, injured); Rob Niedermayer ($1 mil); Mike Mottau ($767.5k); Dean McAmmond ($500k); Ilkka Pikkarainen ($500k, but now with CSKA Moscow); Yann Danis ($500k); Cory Murphy ($500k)
Martin can't be traded until he's healthy anyway, but he's likely to become a hot target on the free agency market in the summer of 2010. He's exceptional, but the Devils have been able to get this far without him. If they aren't able to retain him or if they feel they can play on without him leading the defense, then he could swing a big deal. Getting something now could be an improvement over losing him for nothing on July 1. I doubt he'll be traded, but the opportunity is there. After all, to get a big name player, you're going to have to give up someone good.
The rest of the pending UFAs don't command much value in my opinion. Niedermayer and McAmmond were late signings and I doubt there will be many teams wanting to covet either now. Mottau's been playing well ahead of his salary for the last few seasons, but when he's bad, he's been bad. In terms of a cap, he'd be a fantastic fit for most teams, but he's really a #4/#5 defenseman and how many teams would want one of those? Pikkarainen cleared waivers, I doubt any team would be interested in him now that he's being assigned to the KHL. Danis is a backup goaltender and if teams do want him, they can wait until the summer to get him and probably for cheap. Murphy's been relegated to Lowell and while he's done well there, I doubt he'll be back in New Jersey anytime soon; therefore, I don't think there will be many teams interested in him in a deal.
You know what struggling teams want for their good players? Prospects. Players with potential. Players who have cut their teeth in the NHL and could develop further. And most of these guys fit into that role. Clarkson is basically a more skilled version of Randy McKay, tough as nails, grittier than coarse sandpaper, and has soft hands when he's not using them to punch people. As much as people like his game (and I adore it!), he'd be a prime player to move if the Devils want to make a big deal. Remember that the Devils traded Randy McKay away as part of the Langenbrunner deal with Dallas.
Bergfors is a rookie who has hit the wall, but overall he's shown some good instincts and a good set of skills. I don't think the Devils will give up on him, just because he's struggling to score (you know, like most of the team). It isn't completely out of the realm of possibility since young players with potential are of interest to teams that are or will be re-building.
Rod Pelley is a gritty player, but likely a fourth liner at this point - not much value, but maybe elsewhere he'd develop further. Davis and Fraser have been called up and used in limited action. I think Fraser has really shown he can be a physical defenseman at this level and like Anssi Salmela last season, he could be an asset that's moved in a minor deal. There are certainly other defensemen available in the system that can handle the #6 spot. Davis is more of a "potential" asset, he's shown some good energy in his few games with New Jersey and he was enjoying a good looking season (points-wise) in Lowell. He could be an additional player in a longer deal.
Among this group, the only one who really has some good potential value is Eckford. He was Lowell's sole representative in the AHL All Star Classic, and he's been good enough to warrant a call up for a few games. He's still developing so he's more of a prospect than anything else. I'm not sure what other teams would want in the other players unless they want to boost their farm team or they see something they really like in them.
Additional players who could be moved:
Player: Andy Greene ($737.5k)
What? The Andy Greene? Hey, he's played well above expectations in Paul Martin's absence. I don't think anyone can complain about his performance. No team can possibly complain about his cap hit. What I do question is whether he's just playing out of his mind for now, or whether he's truly breaking out as a player. His contract ends after next season, so the wait-and-see approach won't take too long. Yet, if there's doubt as to whether he can continue to play at this high level (or near it, even), then now would be the best time to move him. I doubt the Devils will ship him out unless there's a really attractive deal that could be made around him.
Prospects on the books: Matt Halischuk ($875k); Patrice Cormier ($875k); Alexander Vasyunov ($850k); Vladimir Zharkov ($850k); Matt Corrente ($821.6k); Nick Palmieri ($801.6k); Alexander Urbom ($598.3k); Adam Henrique ($595.83k)
Of this list, it wouldn't surprise me if Halischuk and Zharkov are offered up in deals. Both have shown good potential and have some NHL experience, while at the same time, both have shown that they need some further development. They're cheap, their deals don't run out soon, and they're on the cusp of becoming regulars. To me, those are assets that rebuilding teams would desire and would be willing to give up a veteran or a regular player in return.
I'm not so certain about players outside of Halischuk and Zharkov. Cormier, Urbom, and Henrique are still in juniors and would be only be demanded for their potential alone at this point. Corrente has had a taste of the NHL, but with three potential free agents on the blueline next season, maybe the Devils would give him a better opportunity in camp to prove himself. Vasyunov's numbers are improved compared to last season's in Lowell, but I think he may need more development. Palmieri has looked decent in his current call up from Lowell, even getting playing time on the top scoring lines. Still, he's still got a lot to prove - is he a power forward, is he skilled enough to be a second line player eventually, etc. Moving him would also be more about potential, though the short NHL experience while in his first season of pro hockey is a very good sign of where his development is going.
For a larger deal, the Devils may be tempted to throw in one of Josefson or Tedenby. Both have shown excellent potential and the feeling is that they'll be in North America sooner rather than later. Again, to get a veteran or a significant player, it isn't unheard of a highly touted prospect to be demanded in return. I doubt the Devils will actually shop the unsigned prospects without seeing them further.
Players I wouldn't expect to be moved at all:
Yes, they're cheap, but they also have done little in New Jersey. Enforcers/goons/players known for their "beef" can be found easily. Why would a team want either Leblond or Peters? Especially on multiple year deals?
Among this list only Davison has some prior NHL experience and given he's been in the AHL this whole season is a sign that is irrelevant. Frazee is the only player on this list with some intriguing potential, but I highly doubt the Devils will part with their only goaltending prospect in the system. Especially after what he showed last season in Lowell. No disrespect intended to any of these players, but I'm not sure what other NHL teams would want them included in a deal outside of a minor-league focused move.
In my opinion, the Devils definitely have some pieces to put together to make a decent enough deal. They have a few young players who are about to be RFAs, they have a big expiring contract in Martin that they could use to try and bring in a "big name," and a number of prospects to sweeten the pot in a potential deal. It may be more palatable to hold onto most of these players as assets and maybe make a minor deal, however. With Salmela, I don't think anyone in New Jersey misses his game.
However, I do think that some guys like Zharkov, Fraser, Corrente, Eckford, and Halischuk could really develop into useful players based on what I have seen from them so far. I would only want to see them moved if the Devils bring in a player who can be of value and fit right into to the current roster. Of course, that's why trades are pretty difficult - you have to be confident in that who you're trading for will be productive and who's being traded away won't necessarily hurt the team later on.
What will the Devils do? Again, Lou keeps such things so under wraps that who really knows what will happen. Maybe it'll be a minor deal. Maybe it'll be a big deal. Usually, he makes a trade of some sort, so we shall see closer to March 3. Please let me know what you think of how I organized this list as well as anything else trade related in the comments.