The NHL’s trade deadline is on Monday Feb. 24, and the Devils are making more moves ahead of that day. Remember back to December when they traded Taylor Hall to Arizona and then fired general manager Ray Shero a few weeks later. When interim general manager Tom Fitzgerald was appointed, the main question was if he would be active as the deadline approached. On Sunday, it was proven that he would be flipping valuable players for assets, as the general manager of a rebuilding team should.
The first trade that went down was trading 14-year veteran and captain Andy Greene across the river to the Islanders in exchange for prospect David Quenneville and a second-round pick in 2021. This fills a need for the Islanders, who are dying for a defenseman who can play the left side after they lost Adam Pelech for the season due to an Achilles injury. They didn’t give up too much to fill that need, leaving a lot of other assets for their needs at the forward positions. In terms of New Jersey, this is somewhat of an unceremonious ending for the long-time captain’s career, but a rebuilding team would much rather have the draft pick and a young prospect, the 21-year-old defensemen Quenneville, to start in their farm system.
The second trade broke just a few hours later, and it involved a goal scorer. Blake Coleman was shipped to Tampa Bay for prospect Nolan Foote and a 2020 first round pick, which will most likely be at the end of the round considering Tampa’s resurgence as of late. Fitzgerald said that he was not actively shopping Coleman, but when the calls came, he assessed his options and determined it was time to trade the 28-year-old left winger. They got another prospect back, one who has a much higher celling than Quenneville. Nolan Foote is only 19 years old and still playing in the Western Hockey League. He was Tampa’s first round pick just a year ago and has performed well as the captain of the Kelowna Rockets, notching 33 points in 26 games thus far. He played on Canada’s gold medal winning World Juniors squad in December.
Tom Fitzgerald might not get the permanent job, but he is certainly making his presence known across the league in his interim term. Trading two of the key pieces of the squad Shero put together shows that the organization is moving on from him and looking ahead to this offseason, where there will be multiple free agents available, including Hall (it’s unlikely he will come back, but it’s certainly possible), Chris Kreider and others. Most importantly, in Nico Hischier and Jack Hughes the Devils have two young stud forwards to build around. These two will provide a base for the rebuild that Fitzgerald and advisor Martin Brodeur are putting together.
As for the Isles, the trade fills a need, but it cannot be the only thing Lou Lamoriello does this week. There seems to be much more rustling around the front office this time around as opposed to last year, when not a peep was heard until Lamoriello stood up and said “We stood pat.” Greene is a good start for the Isles, but he cannot be the only piece added this week.