2/20/12 New Jersey Devils Prospect Update: Looking at Trade Deadline D-Men Targets, 2nd Round Pick Availability


T-Minus 7 days until the trade deadline! After the jump I update statistics for the NCAA/CHL/AHL players, take an in-depth look at potential trade deadline defensive targets and after last week's trades see who has 2nd round picks still available. As with past trade deadlines the 2nd round pick is the usual return in a deadline deal for a rental player.

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There was a flurry of trades at the end of last week that saw players like Pavel Kubina & Nicklas Grossman go to the Flyers, Dominic Moore go to the Sharks, and Hal Gill go to Nashville. The typical return in these deals centered around the typical trade commodity, a 2nd round pick. Before we look at potential trade targets for the Devils, let's take a look at what teams have draft picks that the 'sellers' of the NHL would want for their UFAs.

As we all should be aware, the Devils have two picks in the 2nd round right now, their own and Washington's (via the Jason Arnott trade last year). Right now, only the Devils and Phoenix (Ottawa's 2nd) are teams that you would consider 'buyers', teams who have multiple 2nd round picks in the 2012 draft. After the trades of last week, the teams with access to both their 2nd round pick and are poised to make the playoffs are down to a handful. If we use SportsClubStats.com's recent projections of the teams likeliest to make the playoffs in the Eastern Conference, only the Devils, Rangers and Penguins have their 2nd round picks. In the Western Conference you have a few more teams as 5 of 8 teams (Phoenix, St. Louis, Vancouver, Chicago, and Detroit) have their 2nd round picks.

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So, while they aren't alone in having the right assets to facilitate a trade, the Devils are right there with everyone else should they want to make a deal, and have a more attractive 2nd round pick to offer (Washington's) than the other teams.

Some other fun draft picks facts right now:

The San Jose Sharks only have one pick in the first four rounds of the draft, their first rounder. The LA Kings after they make a panic trade for Rick Nash will likely only have their 4th round pick. On the other end of the spectrum Tampa Bay could have four 2nd round picks.

OK, so the Devils have the right assets to make a trade....now who is still out there?

Assuming the target of a trade would be a defenseman (as reported by multiple outlets, most recently by Tom Gulitti), I've looked at players who might be available to the Devils via trade. Below I put together a list of defensemen who are likely to be available and added some of the statistics that I look at when trying to get a sense of a player on another team.

By looking at a player's on-ice CORSI, his offensive zone starts, even-strength/penalty kill time-on-ice and points I think you can get a sense of how that player is being used by his team. Corsi, a counting stat that reveals puck possession, tells us the difference of how many shots are directed at the net, both for and against. The higher the number the better. Offensive Zone Starts (O-Zone) tells us where a coach deployed his player. The more trustworthy defensive players have a lower percentage while defensemen who struggle in their own zone or are much better offensively than their fellow defensemen have a high one. This is a good way to see how a coach protects some of his less talented players. Ice-time stats are pretty straightforward with the players who are trusted by a coach seeing more even strength/penalty kill time.

(Also, since the Devils are rumored to have financial issues I added money owed to the player for the rest of the season.) Tradedeadlined_large

Trades are completed for a reason: to improve a team. There is no reason to make a trade for the sake of a trade (even though trades are fun). Any defensive acquisition should offer an upgrade over Foster and/or Taormina. And assuming either Larsson or Tallinder can return this season (likely in Larsson's case, questionable in Tallinder's) that means there is one open slot available for upgrade. Let's take a look at how Foster/Taormina compare to the players above:

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Looking at Foster/Taormina's comparable numbers above, I think players like Spacek and Campoli would be lateral moves...at best.

Now let's look at the other players:

Mark Eaton: An acquisition that would provide playoff experience, Eaton can be a nice addition to provide similar type play as a Bryce Salvador/Anton Volchenkov and contribute to the penalty kill if necessary.

Greg Zanon: To reiterate the points HockeyWilderness made here, Zanon doesn't offer the same 'name' value that a Hal Gill does, but provides similar services and is probably better than Gill at this point. Don't judge him by his Corsi, but rather look at the fact that Minnesota utilized him in the defensive zone much more than the offensive zone. Zanon could be a nice acquisition to partner with a more mobile defenseman like a Larsson or Foster.

Bryan Allen: If Lou Lamoriello is looking for the best shutdown defender on the market, look no further. Fantastic Hurricanes blog Shutdownline.com speculates the cost for Allen might be in the Gill/Kubina range and likely more. It should be.

Filip Kuba: The Senators would have to really struggle down the stretch for him to be available. He wouldn't be a huge upgrade on the third pairing, but he can generate points, play the PK unit and holds his own at even-strength play. Again, I doubt he is available, but if he is, he provides a good fall back option should the Devils miss out on the Allens/Zanons of the world.

Johnny Oduya: Oduya, at the end of his contract that the Devils gave to him before shipping him to Atlanta in the Ilya Kovalchuk trade, would likely be available should Winnipeg fall out of the playoff race. Knowing the organization and potentially pairing him with old teammates like Andy Greene or Bryce Salvador would make Oduya an acquisition who wouldn't take time to acclimate to his new surroundings.

But a return to New Jersey wouldn't just be for nostalgia's sake. Oduya can log plenty of minutes at even-strength and on the penalty kill. If Tallinder does not return this year, then I think that Oduya would be the perfect replacement. We all know Lamoriello likes old faces, and I can't help but think Oduya might make a return to New Jersey in the next week if Winnipeg struggles.

Sheldon Souray: Another former Devil, Souray offers a bomb of a shot and still contributes enough defensively to log 15+ minutes at even-strength. If utilized in advantagous situations like a Foster/Taormina would normally be, Souray could be a savvy acquisition at the deadline, assuming the Stars remain sellers and that there are no long-term concerns about the foot injury from which he is recovering.

Jordon Leopold/Lubimir Vishnovsky: Are they even available? I doubt it, but if they are I hope the Devils look to them as top 4 defensemen who can add a puck rushing/moving element to the defensive corps they currently don't have. They both have extra years on their current deals (a manageable $3MM each) which could make the cost to trade for them prohibitive.

If Buffalo is looking to clean house a bit after their struggles this year, they might be able to part with Leopold. Anaheim on the other hand is in the midst of a strong resurgence in the second half of the season and might just hold Vishnovsky and their other tradable assets with hope of leap frogging the teams in front of them to make the playoffs.

Marek Zidlicky: Well, we know he wants to play here so that's a good start. I still have a hard time thinking that Lamoriello is targeting Zidlicky, mainly because of the remaining year left on his contract at a hefty $4MM. Even with his contract situation I am still a bit interested to see how he would play here. If he is acquired you can assume that Jacques Lemaire gave Lamoriello the 'Jacques Lemaire Seal of Approval'.

Even with the Lemaire Seal of Approval once his agent openly tried to push Zidlicky on the Devils, his agent likely shut the door on that option. If I remember correctly, the last player who had Devil trade rumors around him that actually was moved to the Devils was Doug Gilmour. That was over 15 years ago!

Assuming he is still an option, I think that if you ask Zidlicky to give you 15 solid minutes of even-strength play per night, along with time on the power play, the Devils could put him in a position to be successful. My concern would be the price, both to acquire him and to have him on the roster next season.

Considering his price tag for next season, I am not sure what type of package I would give up to acquire him. I can't see giving up a premium pick/prospect for a player who will lock up $4MM of cap space next year.

So who will the Devils acquire, if anyone? Which of the options above do you like/dislike? Did I miss anyone you think will be available?

That's it for this week, please leave any prospect related questions or comments below.

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