The New Jersey Devils are soon to be facing a familiar problem: they will have too many defensemen.
With their captain Bryce Salvador coming back last night, they now have six healthy defensemen. They said Anton Volchenkov is out with “total body soreness”, so you don’t expect him to be out too long. Adam Larsson has missed 15 games so far with a knee injury, but the fact that he is back on the ice skating shows that he will be back in game shape before we know it.
Peter Harrold has been sidelined with a fractured foot, but his timetable did not seem like it would be very much longer. That would make nine NHL-worthy defensemen. What can they do in this situation? For one, they can probably send down Jon Merrill as he does not have enough games to have to pass through waivers. That still leaves eight players that can only fit in six spots.
As of right now, there are probably only three of these players that are untouchable. Andy Greene is the Devils’ best player at times. He is not considered a top defender in the league, but he should be. He is the leader on this unit. Beyond that, the fact that he is underrated would bring too small of a package back to even consider.
Eric Gelinas is the other defenseman that the Devils shouldn’t even consider talking to other teams about. They developed him in their minors and now he is giving them dividends. Larsson is a player who they have high hopes for and is only 21-years old with three years of NHL experience. Teams do not give up on players with this kind of potential.
Is it worth looking for a trade for any of the rest? Marek Zidlicky could bring something back being on a one-year deal, and his 19 points could be appealing. He spends a little too much time in the penalty box with 42 minutes on the season. Volchenkov would be a player the Devils might like to get rid of despite his good season, but his large contract would scare away suitors.
Salvador is the team’s captain and his skill set does not warrant a team sending back a decent player or prospect. Lou Lamoriello will sure look at all of his options on the open market, but making a move just to make a move would be a bad idea. There is a good chance that the Devils won’t get a favorable deal in this market. They could use an offensive player, but they will get a player who is not NHL-ready for the players they have to move.
With the injuries that have hit this team, it is probably best to keep as many defensemen as they can. It seems like it will only be a matter of time before they need someone else to step up. Unless an offer comes in that can really help the team, they should just stick with the team they have.
Nick Villano is the New Jersey Devils writer for Rant Sports. He also adds to their NFL, MLB and NBA content of the site. You can follow him on Twitter here.