The New Jersey Devils watched the longest-reigning general manager in sports Lou Lamoriello bolt for the Toronto Maple Leafs this offseason after the organization brought in Ray Shero. It was a sad day for the organization, and a sign of true transition for the only team representing the Garden State. There is an upside, however, as now Lou can send good players for the ones he was fond of in New Jersey.
There are rumors swirling right now that the Devils offered center Travis Zajac in return for either Nazem Kadri or James van Riemsdyk. The latter of those two options would be the perfect fit for the Devils.
Van Riemsdyk is a New Jersey native. He continues to come back for charity events and other things. He still loves the state. The Devils haven’t had a hometown star in a long time. This would be the perfect chance for a player to grow with the team from his home state.
Zajac would work well for where the Maple Leafs want to go. He isn’t the player he used to be, when he could carry an offense. He can, however, bring a veteran presence in the middle of the offense.
It seems like both these players could also use a change of scenery. Zajac has not been the same since signing an eight-year extension with the Devils back in 2013. It was in the middle of the spotlight because it was the first contract signed after the most recent lockout. Since then, he scored 93 points in three seasons (one lockout shortened). That is not what you want from a guy who is guaranteed for close to a decade.
Van Riemsdyk also could use a new team. In three seasons with the Leafs, he has been great on the offensive side. Unfortunately, he almost gives up as many goals as he scores. He needs to get better on the defensive side. Only three players had a worse plus/minus than him, and two of them shared his line. With Phil Kessel off to the Pittsburgh Penguins, it is time for van Riemsdyk to move on as well.
This trade makes sense for both parties. From what the rumors say, it is only a matter of time before both teams pull the trigger. The Devils need something to get their fanbase excited before a long season. The Maple Leafs just need a pulse. This works on both sides. We may be seeing a true win-win trade in the NHL, depending on what all the other pieces of the trade end up being.