Sometimes it’s never really clear what a team will or can do on the day of the deadline, but with the Devils light years out of a playoff spot having pending FA’s still on the roster there was only one thing left for interim GM Tom Fitzgerald to do…cash out on them and get what you can. Thankfully the lunacy of trading Kyle Palmieri never materialized although tbh I do have enough confidence in Fitz that if Palm had been traded it would have been for a return you couldn’t argue with. I just didn’t want that to happen though, that’s a bridge too far with all the guys who’ve already been sent packing and it not being likely to replace many of them in short order.
It’s just bizarre the highlight I found of Sami Vatanen when I was looking at YouTube for one was this play where he saved a goal at one end and helped spring Taylor Hall for a goal at the other in a game against Ottawa last year. At one point quite recently we were thinking of a future with both of them signed long term, but now…thankfully the biggest name the Devils had to cash out on was done by deposed GM Ray Shero a couple months ago, so I wasn’t quite waiting on pins and needles to find out what we got for Sami and Wayne Simmonds as I would have been if Hall had still been on the market now. Frankly, I wasn’t expecting much for Wayne at this point and in the case of Sami, his recent injury probably lessened the potential market for him.
Still I think Fitz did what he could given the circumstances, apparently the initial reports on the Vatanen trade were wrong and we didn’t even get a conditional 2nd rounder. Instead the deal was a prospect Janne Kuokkanen, a 2016 2nd-round pick, AHL/NHL tweener defensive depth in Fredrik Claesson plus a conditional 4th that could go up to a 3rd depending on how many games Vat plays. Kuokkanen is a 21-year old winger who’s put up 120 points in 160 career AHL games, but still hasn’t scored in his brief NHL career (11 games) to this point. He’ll probably top out as a middle six playmaker if anything, but you never know with younger players. Sadly it looks like he’s the biggest part of the return, so hopefully he’ll pan out.
Unfortunately for Simmonds, I was right that there weren’t many suitors. It was actually a bit of a surprise to see it was the Sabres – currently six points out of a playoff spot – who traded for Wayne though. After he only fetched a 4 and roster filler last year at the deadine having a much better season, I figured on this kind of return if the Devils bothered to deal Wayne. Of course since he had a no-trade, they had to get him to waive it so evidently he’s okay with the deal. Perhaps it’s mildly dissapointing the 5th rounder is in 2021 instead of 2020 but whatever, either way it’s a 5th rounder.
Beating the gun to make one last move, the Devils flipped goalie Louis Domingue (who cleared waivers and is now back in the AHL) to Vancouver for fellow AHL goalie Zane McIntyre, who’s 27 and not having a particularly great year for Utica. Almost seems like they were doing Domingue, and Vancouver a favor with this deal – along with saving a little money since Domingue was still getting paid his salary in the AHL. Oh well, whatever….at least prospect Gilles Senn will be playing more for Binghamton down the stretch in their playoff push.
Can’t say I’m annoyed or excited about anything that happened today, clearly the biggest moves and most emotionally wrenching happened already. Of the players who left today I obviously had more of an attachment to Vat, given his outgoing personality, the fact he was here longer and helped us get to the playoffs in 2018. It’s too bad things never really worked out for him here after that, with a series of concussions and this latest foot injury eating into both his icetime and effectiveness. Plus to be honest, Vat being out of the lineup the last few weeks kind of helped me prepare for life without Sami. Gotta respect Simmonds for the career he’s had and the person he’s had but he really wasn’t adding all that much on the ice this season, might as well have his spot filled by another younger player for the final month plus of the season. Domingue had his moments earlier this season but you could see it was over for him here when they demoted Louie and brought back up Cory Schneider to have him play sporadically the last few weeks of the season.