Ray Shero has started to make the Devils Interesting Again

Another pretty big hockey trade in the month of November.

The New Jersey Devils today traded forwards Adam Henrique, Joseph Blandisi and a 2018 third-round pick to the Anaheim Ducks for defenseman Sami Vatanen and a conditional third-round pick.

The Devils are starting to get pretty interesting in the Metropolitan Division due to the high-end talent that’s been brought in over the last year.

Devils GM Ray Shero is often known for dealing defensemen for top-6 forwards, but this was a move where Shero has the forward depth to move a productive forward in Henrique for a top-4 puck moving defenseman that helps them for this season and seasons beyond.

“In acquiring Sami, we bring a right-shot, top-four defenseman who can play in all situations,” Devils general manager Ray Shero said via Northjersey.com. “This move also gives us contract certainty on the back end for the next two-plus years. When acquiring a defenseman like Vatanen, you have to give back quality assets or players in return. That is the case in this situation with Adam and Joe. Adam has been a key member of our organization for nearly 10 years since he was drafted. This also says a great deal about our other forwards in Binghamton (AHL) and those who have taken the next step in New Jersey,” Shero added.

Shero was in a pretty dire situation with the team and notably the forward group when he took the job, and he’s added Taylor Hall, Nico Hischier, Kyle Palmeri, Marcus Johansson to the mix over the last year and a half to form a highly skilled top-6 group with Travis Zajac.

With some impressive starts to the season from young players like Jesper Bratt, Miles Wood, and an out of nowhere start to the year for Brian Gibbons with 11 goals, Henrique had become expendable for the Devils in the present and the future where they have a strong group of forward prospects coming up in the next couple years.

2015 first round pick Pavel Zacha hasn’t developed offensively yet much but he’s going to be a good one and is already a contributor for New Jersey at the NHL level.

New Jersey has a potential star in 2016 first round pick Michael McLeod, a big fast skilled two-way center who is playing in the OHL and will be in the NHL within the next two years.

There’s other forward prospects in the system like John Quenneville, Nathan Bastian in the AHL who scouts believe are NHL players and scouts really like Joey Anderson, a 2016 3rd round pick who is a sophomore at Minnesota-Duluth that will likely turn pro after this season.

So from New Jersey’s end, this was a really smart move to trade maybe their 6th/7th most important forward for a legitimate young top-4 defenseman who is a strong puck mover, which was a major need, and long-term Henrique was unlikely to get another big contract from New Jersey with their forward group that’s coming up.

The forward group is trending up big-time and the blueline gets a much needed piece here and like the forward group, there’s a good young core in place with Sami Vantanen (26 years old), Will Butcher (22 years old), Steven Santini (22 years old), Damon Severson (23 years old) where the Devils are building a formidable group.

Are the Devils a sure fire playoff team this season?

No, but they’re a team that’s become interesting and should have some sustaining power as a playoff contender for the foreseeable future.

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