March 10, 2024

Bryce Salvador

Hey, Devils Fans!

Our MSG crew returns from our 2-game hiatus tonight at the Garden for the Hudson River Rivalry, starting with the Devils pregame show at 6:30 PM on MSGSN! Be sure to join Erika and me as we sit down with GM Tom Fitzgerald to recap his trade deadline moves and break down NJD’s remodeled goaltending tandem. A lot to catch up on and digest!

Trading away Vitek and bringing in 2 new faces, Fitzy has done as good of a job as possible in allowing the Devils to get a fresh, psychological reset after going through a multitude of combinations in net that simply were not working this season. 

Starting with Jake Allen, the Devils’ focal point and target of the trade deadline, this is a goaltender that Fitzy brought in not just as a stopgap for this season, but also as a legitimate tandem goalie for next season while at 50% salary retention. As per Fitzy's words, the ideal off-season plan is to subsequently bring in a “big fish” #1 goaltender, making Allen the fortifying piece of one of the strongest NHL tandems come October 2024.

It hasn’t been an amazing season for Allen, by any means, but his track record and experience as a Stanley Cup Champion should provide some stability and leadership for the Devils throughout the remainder of the season.

The Kaapo Kahkonen trade, on the other hand, was made for the purpose of relieving Vitek’s $3.4M cap hit (1 more YL), allowing for greater financial flexibility in the goaltender search this offseason. While I don’t expect Kahkonen to be brought back next season (2024 UFA expiry status), I’d like to see if he can give the Devils quality starts on a consistent basis and potentially even force management to offer him an extension after this stint.

Something that might change everyone’s perspective on Kahkonen is his stellar play when facing two key situations: inner slot shots and HD chances off the rush. His stellar inner slot Sv% (ranked 7th best of NHL goaltenders) and his 4th best Sv% off HD rush chances AG come all while playing on a team (SJS) that concedes the highest rate of inner slot shots/60 and the 7th most GA off the rush, which is important to note because he's joining a Devils team that bleeds the 9th most inner slot shots/60 and the 5th most goals off HD rush chances. Hopefully, he can replicate this part of his game in Jersey!

Now, for whatever reason, an interesting commonality between Allen and Kahkonen is that they have each played some of their best hockey at Prudential Center throughout their careers. With the Devils having struggled mightily to get timely saves on home ice all season, I'm looking at this as an outlet for optimism that this duo can continue to perform well at the Rock and help the Devils end their long-standing home woes!

Wrapping up my thoughts on the trade deadline, I thought Fitzy did a great job of acquiring draft capital (2nd, 3rd, and 4th round picks) in his pair of trades with WPG.

When it became clear that the Devils and Tyler Toffoli were not aligned on their desired term, and that NJD had below a 20% chance of making the playoffs this season, it made the most sense to pick up a couple of future assets rather than renting your own UFA. Whether or not the Devils circle back to Toffs in the summer, his time here will certainly be appreciated by his teammates and by Devils Nation. As for Colin Miller, he provided a consistent steady presence and heavy shot on the back end in his 41 GP with NJD this season, and I’m confident he’ll be able to do the same for WPG. I hope to see Toffs and Millsy go on a deep run up north with the Jets in the postseason, but for now, I like these trades as an opportunity for guys like Nolan Foote and Nick DeSimone to showcase themselves in the last 18 games!


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