The New Jersey Devils had a huge highlight this summer with the blockbuster trade that saw Adam Larsson go to Edmonton Oilers for left wing Taylor Hall. Now everyone, including Devils fans, were excited by this deal. They had a right to be; Hall is an elite winger who has produced in the league for years now.
Many people believe the Devils stand a chance to make the playoffs this year. But something went overlooked: who is supposed to play defense now?
This is where I began digging and realized that the Devils don’t really have a defense now. Their best defender is Andy Greene. Now in my opinion, Andy Greene isn’t playing on a top pairing in any team, except maybe Edmonton.
You may think I’m being crazy, so let me show you the defenseman on their roster.
Kyle Quincey (signed Wednesday)
They have a few young players in there with decent potential like Damon Severson and Jonathon Merrill. However, I don’t see any of these guys shut down guys. Talking with other people about this, many believe this team is filled with top-six defenseman (3rd line Defense) with a few top-four defensemen (2nd line defense).
Yes, players can grow and get better, but are any of these players ready to step up this season. Adam Larsson was the only top two defenseman (1st line defense) they had last year and they sent him away.
Ben Lovejoy and John Moore are both top-6 guys. However on this Devils roster they are asked to play bigger roles. This could come back to cost the Devils and make you wonder if the trade was really as good as people thought.
I am not denying the team will be better offensively. But I think questions need to be asked on the back end and I don’t think Wednesday’s afternoon signing of Kyle Quincey was the answer.
I do not seeing the Devils making the playoffs unless they have another move up their sleeve.
So what are possible solutions?
There is Kris Russell still on the free agent market. They could make a move for him, although there are questions if Russell is good enough for the money he wants. Signing Russell would also give them a lot of defenseman and not enough spots to play them.
I think the best plan of attack would come via trade. Jacob Trouba is a big name on the market. He has requested a trade out of Winnipeg because he wants to play right side defense according to his agent. This deal would require a big return, though. The Devils would probably be forced to move one of the young defenseman plus extra. This may be worth it for a more established defenseman in Jacob Trouba.
Other trade targets could be Hampus Lindholm or Travis Hamonic. Lindholm is an RFA without a contract in Anaheim. The return would be comparable to the possible Trouba trade. Then the Devils would have to get him to sign. According to Bob McKenzie, Lindholm is looking for a long-term deal around $6-6.5 million AAV.
Travis Hamonic requested a trade during the year last year. The Islanders were unable to move him. Still could be shopping him still, but again, more than likely he will be an Islander at the start of the season.
Overall this is a tough position to be in. I do not believe this defense is good enough for an 82-game season resulting in the playoffs.