The New Jersey Devils unfortunately didn’t make the playoffs this season, and as other teams are still playing, the Devils are looking to improve.
After a poor 2014 season, the Devils hold the sixth-overall pick in the upcoming NHL Draft. This seasons draft looks to be a very talented and deep one. Having a Top-10 pick in this draft has value, and the Devils could look to see if they could trade it for a proven commodity.
Whether the Devils use the pick or trade the pick, it must be used to help the Devils score. Last season, the Devils ranked 28th in the NHL in goals per game with just 2.1 goals a game.
Another team in the Eastern Conference that had a difficult season was the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Maple Leafs missed the playoffs for the second straight season, and last season was a really bad one with a 30-44-8 record. After the horrendous season for the Maple Leafs, it could mean that their star Phil Kessel will be available. Kessel is a big name in the NHL, as he has been a very good scorer, which makes him a fit for New Jersey.
Kessel, a former first-round pick of the Boston Bruins has had a very successful nine-year NHL career with the Bruins and mostly the Maple Leafs. In nine seasons, Kessel has totaled 520 points on 247 goals and 273 assists. In a rough season in Toronto last year, Kessel still had 61 points on 25 goals and 36 assists.
For the Devils last season, their leading-scorer was Adam Henrique, who totaled just 43 points. Mike Cammalleri had a good season scoring goals with 27, but he only had 15 assists. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that if the Devils want to improve, they need help scoring.
Devils’ general manager Lou Lamoriello told NJ.com that he hasn’t been approached by any trade proposal yet for the sixth pick.
“You never say never to anything. But it’s unlikely, unless there is something you can’t refuse,” Lamoriello said to Rich Chere. “You never say no because somebody could come up with something you can’t say no to, or you have a situation like we had a couple of years ago (with the opportunity to trade for goalie Cory Schneider).Apr 7, 2015; Newark, NJ, USA; New Jersey Devils goalie Cory Schneider (35) makes a save during the first period at Prudential Center. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports
Kessel would come with a high price tag, as he has four-years, $35 million left on his deal. He will be turning 28-years-old in October, so he still has plenty of prime years left in him.
The Devils have shown very recently that they aren’t afraid to trade away a Top-10 pick if it means bringing in a talented player. The trade for Schneider was a very successful one for the Devils, who needed to replace their face of the franchise Martin Brodeur.
If New Jersey thinks they can get an impact player with the sixth pick in the draft, they should take that young player. However, if they aren’t sure on a forward at six, they should certainly give trading for Kessel a long hard look, as great scorers like him aren’t easy to come by.