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NHL Trade Deadline Approaching: NJ Devils Next Moves

NJ Devils forward, Alexander Holtz #10 (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

With the 2024 NHL trade deadline quickly approaching, every team must figure out the correct moves to make before March 8. Traveling to the Eastern Conference, one team that currently needs to make extremely smart moves going forward is the New Jersey Devils. 

Coming off of a high from last season, the Devils have been struggling with consistency this year. This team is not playoff ready. With around 20 games left still to play, they currently are out of a playoff position, sitting 8 points back from the first wildcard spot. 

Even with the possible trades, it's worth asking if it is too late for the team to be salvaged this season. From injuries plenty to poor coaching, a fresh start may be what the team needs. 

While a fresh start may be the most beneficial, that does not change the fact that they need to do something to finish the season stronger than they are now. 

Star Goalie: A Necessity

One of the bigger issues the team has been facing on the ice has been their overall poor goaltending. 

For the first half of the season, the Devils have had three goaltenders: Vitek Vanacek, Akira Schmid, and Nico Daws. Following Christmas break, Schmid was sent down to the Utica Comets, their American Hockey League (AHL) team, and Daws was brought up. Vanacek had recently been out for a lower-body injury, meaning Daws has been getting the nod to play in games quite often recently.  His record currently sits at 8-8-0, with a .897 save percentage – meaning, he is doing pretty okay. Not great, but pretty okay. 

But, just because Daws has been performing decently, does not mean the Devils should be passing up the opportunity to add a new goalie, given the chance presents itself before the deadline. 

Reports have surfaced that the Devils have their eyes on Juuse Saros, Nashville Predators goaltender. With every good game the Predators play, the chances their star goalie gets traded goes down. Predators general manager, Barry Trotz, has recently explained that he believes Saros will continue playing in net for the team this year, not suspecting any changes coming for him. 

NJ Devils captain Nico Hischier alongside Predators goalie Juuse Saros / Steve Roberts - USA TODAY Sports

Another goalie that the Devils have had their eye on is Jacob Markstrom from the Calgary Flames, but recently the deal has been reported to have fallen through. After the 2025-26 season, Markstrom can become an unrestricted free agent, meaning he would be free to sign with any team without any penalties, restrictions, or compensation to his previous team. 

It is speculated that if Markstrom were to come to Jersey, Calgary would likely ask for Alexander Holtz, 22-year-old Devils forward. Holtz has not gotten enough opportunity with the Devils. Currently, he is averaging around 11 minutes on ice per game, not nearly enough to show the talent and skill that Holtz is showing. He is third on the team in 5v5 points, with 22. While he likely is garnering interest from other teams as a young player with great potential, the Devils should not let him go just yet.

Stronger, Bigger, Tougher Defensive

If it's not a top goalie, the Devils next move may be to grab a new defensive player. 

Staying in Calgary, NJ has had their eyes on Noah Hanifin, the Flames’ 6-foot3 defenseman. Despite their struggles this season, the Devils may still be able to pull themselves together with someone like Hanifin added to the roster. It’s clear that the Devils continue to struggle in the defensive zone, so an intimidator on D, someone to help out the goalie, will be extremely beneficial. 

The Struggles Keep Coming…

Goalie and defensive zone aside, this team is struggling with more than that. 

One of the more prominent issues is their power play. At the start of the season, they ended October with a 42 percent success rate, scoring on 14 of 33 power play opportunities. Fast forward to January, and only three power play goals were scored all month. Solutions? Go direct. Shoot the puck. Reward players for performance – put in players like Alex Holtz.

The Devils are not willing to engage physically, and that has become a major flaw this season. This does not mean taking unnecessary penalties and dropping the gloves. It means being able to compete, show up, and bigger players, think 6-foot-6 Kevin Bahl, need to realize their size.

Arguably the most important, the Devils need a major attitude adjustment. As the team continues to struggle, they need to have a ‘next game’ menaility. After a tough loss, every man on the roster needs to come back stronger and ready to perform better than ever.

Final Thoughts

The trade deadline is only about a week away now. New Jersey’s GM, Tom Fitzgerald, as well as the rest of the NHL team managers will have to make some difficult decisions for the remainder of the hockey season. For the Devils, hopefully this means clinching a playoffs spot. 

Edited by: Breanna Ebisch

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