The Devils are in trouble. They’re in big trouble.
A year after Zach Parise left town the team has seen David Clarkson and now Ilya Kovalchuk bolt for greener pastures as the organization is suddenly looking like a quickly sinking ship as entrenched veterans continue to jump ship.
With Kovalchuk’s sudden departure the Devils are now left with Michael Ryder and Ryane Clowe as their top two scoring wingers on a roster that is starting to look devoid of much talent. All this shuffling has gotten Sabres fans talking about a potential trade partner for the services of Thomas Vanek. However, they’re forgetting that the Devils don’t have very much to offer in exchange for the talented sniper.
New Jersey does not have a deep prospect pool by any stretch. They have some young, budding stars in Adam Henrique and Adam Larsson in addition to a great center in Travis Zajac. However, they’re without their first round pick next year (as a penalty for Kovalchuk’s contract), spent a first on Stefan Matteau last season and shipped their first rounder for Corey Schneider at the draft this season.
While there is some significant talent on their NHL roster – and some defensive value in their pipeline – I don’t think there’s any way the Sabres are able to swing a trade with the Devils. Reason being, the Devils won’t have anything to offer.
Henrique and Zajac are players who would fit perfectly in Buffalo’s rebuilding plans and Vanek would certainly address New Jersey’s need for a talented scoring winger. Yet the price to obtain such a player would be prohibitive for the Devils.
In losing Parise and Clarkson to free agency and the ugly situation with surrendering a first round draft pick (now guaranteed to be next year), the Devils were already in a vulnerable situation. Kovalchuk just made things exponentially worse. A relatively weak prospect pool and the need to hold onto their current prospects puts New Jersey in a situation where they have very few trade chips and trying to trade for Vanek would simply be counter-productive.
No matter what type of trade you might be able to cook up (Henrique, Zajac, Larsson etc.), the overall price would equate to little more than a lateral move for the Devils. That’s not to say that Henrique’s value is equal to that of Vanek, but New Jersey wouldn’t be improving their situation by spending as much as they’d have to on Vanek. While they’d add a world class talent, they’d be sending off more than they’d be getting in return.
Maybe there’s a deal to be made for a player like Tyler Ennis or Drew Stafford but nothing in the neighborhood of a major piece like Vanek. So Sabres fans will need to look elsewhere for a potential destination for their disgruntled winger.