Spotlight: 5 Recent Transactions Made by the New Jersey Devils

The 2021 NHL trade deadline passed on April 12 at 3 p.m. (Eastern Time). Sixteen trades were made during the day, as teams attempted to prepare for extended playoff runs. Several other trades were made in the days and weeks leading up to the deadline. The New Jersey Devils traded two of its key veteran players and made a few other transactions. Below is a look at the team’s player activity before and just after the NHL trade deadline.

Image courtesy wyliepoon | Flickr

While teams are not permitted to make trades after the deadline, they can sign their own prospects. New Jersey did just that on April 19, when it signed right winger Alexander Holtz to a three-year, entry-level contract. Selected 17th overall by the Devils in the 2020 NHL Draft, Holtz is a goal-scoring winger known for his hard and accurate shot. He recorded 18 points through 40 games with Djurgårdens IF in Sweden this season and also had three points in five games for his country at the U-20 World Junior Championships.

Prior to the deadline, New Jersey primarily traded veteran players on expiring contracts for draft picks and prospects, but it did make one exception. The Devils sent a conditional third-round pick for the 2021 NHL Draft to the Washington Capitals in exchange for defenseman Jonas Siegenthaler.

A 23-year-old native of Zurich, Switzerland, Siegenthaler was selected by the Capitals in the second round of the 2015 NHL Draft. He made his debut with the Capitals during the 2018–19 season and accumulated 13 points in 97 games before the trade.

In addition to trades, New Jersey cleared up salary cap and roster space on deadline day by waiving veterans Nikita Gusev and Sami Vatanen. A 28-year-old native of Moscow, Russia, Gusev signed with the Devils prior to the 2019–20 season after spending 10 seasons in the KHL. He recorded 44 points in 66 games with the team that season, but had only five points through 20 games in 2020–21. Subsequently, he signed a one-year contract with the Florida Panthers.

Meanwhile, Vatanen has spent the past four seasons with the Devils. The 29-year-old defenseman, originally drafted by the Anaheim Ducks in 2009, had six points in 30 games this season and 74 points through 184 regular season games with New Jersey. He was also a member of the Finnish national team that won bronze at the 2009 World U18 Championship and 2014 Winter Olympics. Vatanen was claimed on waivers by the Dallas Stars.

After acquiring Siegenthaler from the Capitals, the Devils freed up playing time for the young defenseman by trading Dmitry Kulikov to the Edmonton Oilers for a conditional fourth-round pick in the 2022 NHL Draft. New Jersey will receive a third-round pick instead of a fourth if the Oilers win a round in the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

A veteran of 12 seasons, Kulikov played 38 games for New Jersey this season and recorded two assists. He was originally selected 14th overall by the Florida Panthers in the 2009 NHL Draft and spent seven seasons with the team. He has also played for the Buffalo Sabres and Winnipeg Jets. Kulikov has 35 goals and 137 assists through 715 career regular season games.

Prior to the deadline, New Jersey’s most substantial transaction involved longtime Devils Kyle Palmieri and Travis Zajac, both of whom were shipped to the New York Islanders in exchange for Mason Jobst and A.J. Greer, a first-round pick in the 2021 NHL Draft and a conditional second-round pick in the 2022 NHL Draft. New Jersey retained half of the salaries for both Palmieri and Zajac.

Palmieri has been with the Devils since the 2015–16 season and recorded at least 20 goals and 44 points in each of the past five seasons. Zajac, meanwhile, was selected 20th overall by the Devils in the 2004 NHL Draft and recorded 550 points in 1,024 career regular season games with the franchise. He’s familiar with Islanders general manager Lou Lamoriello, who served in executive capacities with the Devils from 1987 to 2015. Lamoriello was New Jersey’s general manager when the team drafted Zajac.

“There are players that Lou values on our team, for obvious reasons,” said New Jersey general manager Tom Fitzgerald, following the trade. “For me, players want to play for Lou, especially his ex-players and I think that’s important through all this and Travis was no different. He knows what the environment’s going to be, he knows what the expectations will be.”

An alumnus of Ohio State University, Jobst has yet to appear in the NHL, but played seven games with the Islanders’ AHL affiliate in Bridgeport this season. Meanwhile, Greer has six points through 37 career NHL regular season games and recorded two points in 10 games this season with Bridgeport.

Jeff Sica is a regular guest on Fox Business and has also provided commentary for CNBC and Bloomberg.