The New Jersey Devils are expected to be active at the trade deadline as they look to fortify the roster after their stellar start to the season. Firmly in the playoff race, the Devils could bolster their team with some mid-season acquisitions, and they’ve certainly been hard at work identifying some potential targets.
The Devils utilized an early 12-game winning streak to jump out into second place in the Metropolitan Division. With 66 points in 47 games (31-12-4), the Devils have the most goals in their division (164) while conceding the fewest (123). Clearly, this is team is no farce, and with the trade deadline looming, acquiring the best possible reinforcements could position the Devils for a legitimate Stanley Cup run.
The Devils have a strong squad, but there are certain areas they could stand to improve. For one, their power play unit ranks in the middle of the league in terms of its success (21.43 percent), and they would do well to add another attacking presence to the mix. With that in mind, here are the three best moves the Devils could make at the 2023 NHL Trade Deadline.
3. Get some defensive depth
The Devils are one of the league’s best defensive teams, but adding some depth is never a bad idea. New Jersey could look to add a defensive-minded player to their squad, and ideally one who brings an increased physical presence to the mix. Two players they could target are Columbus Blue Jackets’ Vladislav Gavrikov or St. Louis Blues’ Niko Mikkola.
Both veteran defenders figure to be available at the trade deadline and could be good fits for the Devils. Gavrikov is an elite shot blocker, not afraid to throw his body in harm’s way in order to protect the net. In 2022-23, he’s blocked 81 shots in 47 games, in addition to 50 hits. Mikkola, on the other hand, has 64 blocks and 89 hits in 47 games, though has only registered three points.
2. Trade for Bo Horvat
This is a move that has been rumored for a while, and it makes a ton of sense for the Devils. New Jersey has expressed willingness to pay for a rental asset in order to make a run at the Stanley Cup, and there’s perhaps no better rental in all of hockey than Bo Horvat. The Canucks star is in the last year of his deal and doesn’t figure to extend his stay with the team. Adding him to the mix in New Jersey would allow them to shake up their lines a bit and perhaps get Jack Hughes some more help in the process.
Horvat is enjoying a career year, already having matched his goalscoring tally from last season (31) in 23 fewer games. Of those 31 goals, 11 have come on the power play, suggesting he could help improve the Devils’ special teams units, too. A top-10 goalscorer in the league this season, Horvat could provide an extra spark in New Jersey to take their offense to the next level.
1. Trade for Timo Meier
If Bo Horvat isn’t available, the Devils could always turn to Timo Meier. Another player that has been linked to New Jersey in the past, Meier’s contract situation isn’t as straightforward as that of Horvat. Meier will hit restricted free agency next year, so there’s a bit more control over his deal, which could potentially make him more costly.
Still, the Swiss winger has been dominant for the Sharks this season, scoring 28 goals and registering 48 points in 49 games. He’s a great physical presence, logging 106 hits on the year, already crossing the 100-hit threshold for the fourth time in his career. With a trade seemingly growing more likely for Timo Meier, the Devils should be keeping close tabs on the Sharks’ 26-year-old.