Leaving New Jersey is Russian Simeon Varlamov, who has been a prospect and in the system for the Devils since he was acquired from Tampa for Kolzig in the winter of 2007. Having pinned their future on his development, the team traded for Ryan Miller last season out of the blue when they had a deal they felt they needed to take. Despite falling early in the playoffs, Miller helped backstop the team to a 100+ point season as they finished first in the Eastern Conference during the regular season.
And because of this, with Miller a UFA and Varlamov 79 OV and ready to take over starting duties the team made a decision. Feeling more comfortable at at paying Miller 5+ million a season when he's a proven commodity than playing Varlamov 3+ million, he got dealt. Not wanting to pay a backup that much money (again), the team needed to deal him to get help up front or on the back end.
A couple other deals interested the team but in one case a prospect would not be made available and the team opted to go with Nashville. While not a huge fan of Jussi Jokinen, he's definitely a serviceable player and despite only have a couple years on his contract the team felt he could end up exactly what we needed. A relatively fast player with both good offensive and defensive instincts, right now the plan is to either have him play right wing with Ryan as his center (and moving Backes to C) or putting Jussi himself at center so he can have Backes flank him there. If he retains his ability to play any forward position, that would really open up what he can do for the team. The team is going to hope he can get them about 50-60 points in production and anything more would be gravy.
Also coming to New Jersey are prospects Robbie O'Gara, who likely won't sign for 4 years and at this point is barely worth mentioning, as well as Jared Knight and Jordan Caron. Those two have qualities that are a little more to get excited about. Caron will be on the farm this year and could see a couple call ups depending on injuries but the Devils see him as a solid future 2nd line player capable of decent defense and should be able to chip in 45-55 points. Knight is a bit of a wildcard as at this point he could still easily never make the NEFHL but the Devils are hoping he can blossom into a 25-30 goal scorer as he has a lethal shot. Both become top 5 prospects with the team, joining the likes of Joey Hishon, Carlie Coyle and Luke Adam. The team is glad to finally boost the forward prospects again.
Granted, getting them cost more than Varlamov, as recently drafted Joe Fogarty and Ty Rattie also departed the team. It was well known heading into the draft that the Devils were unprepared, and despite making a savvy pick getting Fogarty as a steal the team wasn't about to let that stand in the way of this deal. They are happy to pick up a couple prospects they know more about with solid 2nd line upside, Caron with potential defense and Knight with grit and scoring - as well as a long term project in O'gara and a 3rd round pick.
The team will miss Varlamov, as he easily has what it takes to be a franchise goalie, but with Ryan Miller in town - the team has confidence he can carry the load for the next 4-5 seasons. At this point the team has no other young goalies in the pipeline and while that needs to be addressed, the team is more concerned about adding a defensive forward and another defenseman tot he mix first.