2012 Trade Deadline: The Devils Future Free Agents

There are only a few more days until the deadline and things are heating up a bit in the NHL. It's been all quiet on the Devils front yet some rumors have emerged involving the team. If the Devils were to make a trade, ILWT already has some posts up for you.

First - here's a look at the future draft picks for the Devils. They have a good amount of picks for this years draft if they want to improve their team.

Second - In Tom's weekly prospect write-up, he went into great detail about available defensemen and 2nd round availability throughout the league.

Now - we will look at the Devils situation again. Perhaps instead of trading away picks and prospects, they may consider giving up some full timers for a big trade. Los Angeles is shopping Dustin Brown and the Devils are interested per Bob McKenzie. After the jump, I will look at the current Devils who will be Free Agents at the end of the season and their odds on the Devils trading him. If teams are looking to get real NHL players from the Devils - it might be tough.

Using CapGeek, it's pretty easy to follow the NHL from a salary and cap standpoint. All data is from there. I've omitted anyone with a no trade clause or a no movement clause.

Let's start:

Zach Parise - $6 million Salary and Cap Hit - Yeah, he's not getting traded. The talks stirred up around the All-Star break and things have died down since then. No way he's going anywhere. He's the captain of one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference.

Alexei Ponikarovsky - $1.5 million Salary and Cap Hit - Just traded to New Jersey and he's been a huge boost to the 3rd line. I doubt Lou moves him since he's been awesome and a great help to the top 9. However, it is possible he's involved if the Devils are trying to get someone like Dustin Brown or a high defenseman (who? I don't know).

Nick Palmieri - $525k Salary ($240k bonuses) $801k Cap Hit - A restricted free agent after this season and suffering from a sophomore slump, I can see this cat getting traded. A young potential NHL power forward could be a sweetener for something better. He's having a rough season, so that could deter teams away, but his room for improvement may combat that if a team is willing to take a chance and get younger.

Ryan Carter - $750k Salary and Cap Hit - Just started practicing again with the team, I can see no use that other teams would want. He's a 4th liner and it should stay that way.

Petr Sykora - $650k Salary and Cap Hit - Back in the NHL and logging good minutes with New Jersey, he's been a great addition to the Devils. Lately, he's been suspect. He's a veteran with playoff experience so I can see potential playoff teams in look for scoring and leadership wanting him. What they are willing to give back to NJ begs the question that will be answered by Monday.

Cam Janssen, Stephane Vielleux, Steve Bernier. All are UFA's but I see no reason why the Devils would part with them nor a team want them.

Bryce Salvador - $2.9 million Salary and Cap Hit - A stay at home defenseman coming back from a serious head injury making that much money? I doubt the Devils would want to get rid of him with they themselves looking to bolster their blue line let alone a team wanting someone like him.

Kurtis Foster - $1.8 million Salary and Cap Hit - An offensive specialist traded to Jersey a couple months ago. Why would the Devils part ways with him? If they are looking to get a better player that fits his role, the Devils could trade him along with some young prospects or a draft pick to improve the defense, He comes cheap too.

Matt Taormina -$550k Salary and Cap Hit - A potential future full-time NHLer who will be an restricted free agent. The Devils would be wise to keep him. If the Devils are really looking for a huge boost somewhere and get that opportunity presented to them - should they part ways with him? I say no. He's part of the future for NJ. They shouldn't trade him for a veteran - they have plenty.

Mark Fayne - $550k Salary $542.5k Cap Hit - One of the best defenseman this season for New Jersey and the most durable. He comes cheap. Also a restricted free agent. Why would the Devils trade him (or Taormina) if they need help on the blue line? The Devils would be wise to keep him too.

Conclusion

There aren't a lot of players here that the Devils would or should trade away. That hurts them but in a way saves the team from getting broken up at their best point of the season results wise. Some are too important and log good ice time (Parise, Poni, Sykora, Salvador). Some are less important in which teams may not want (Carter, Janssen). If the Devils are looking to make a trade, it's going to be tough to trade away potential free agents for a rental.

They could use one of these guys as a package deal in a big deal however. Perhaps a pick, prospect and low end potential free agent like Palmieri or Taormina for a player like Dustin Brown (and maybe a pick back). Trading away multiple picks and prospects leaves the organizational depth in a weak situation. Trading away full time NHlers may not improve the team.

They have some options:

1. They should be active this weekend; make inquiries about big time NHLers that may be on the market. They have the cap room (max Cap Hit is almost $10m). If Lou can maneuver something like the Kovalchuk Trade (obviously not to that degree) where he gave up each a pick, a prospect, a young scorer, and a defenseman - it won't diminish one major aspect of the organization - but giving up bits and pieces throughout the whole spectrum. Spread the wealth sort of. It's becoming clear that the Devils may finish the season strong and possibly make a strong push in the playoffs. Yes, they still have problems but they can fix them this weekend with some big trade(s). Why not make a big trade for a deep playoff run? They have the picks, they have some good prospects (where only one or two may be traded), and they have some young role players that other teams wouldn't mind having.

2. Status Quo. They stay quiet this weekend - look to get healthy internally and maybe make a depth move. Perhaps the Devils made their deadline move with the additions of Foster and Poni (which for the most part has worked out). They get a healthy Zajac and Tallinder back in the next month or so (who knows?) and hopefully they continue their current run into something great. The better option in terms of keeping the teams depth and draft picks but if teams around New Jersey make strong moves this weekend, the Devils may be in a tough situation since they didn't improve. The Flyers have already made some moves. Will other teams like Pittsburgh, Boston and Ottawa do the same?

There you have it. What do you think about the free agent situation, and the options the Devils have? What should they do?

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