The New Jersey Devils made a potentially season defining move trading #1 defenseman Mark Giordano to Anaheim Ducks last week in exchange for a group of farm players who will have no impact on the pro team this year. While that group included strictly farm and buyout candidate players like G Adam Morrison and D Anton Belov, the prized side of it was forwards Ryan Strome and Stefan Matteau. With how Giordano looks this upcoming season he likely would be the best to ever play the position for the Devils at this point in the franchises history. Unfortunately, after Kane received $7 million from the Bruins something had to be done and a veteran D had to be moved. While Wisniewski or Edler would have cleared more cap space, the best return would come from Giordano and his name was put on the market to see about possible returns.
At 82 OV and only making $2,250,000 Giordano is a huge bargain for what he's going to produce and it's not like has been a slouch in the past two years in New Jersey either. He put up very respectable 39 and 36 point seasons with 21 goals mainly as the teams #3 and top PKer. Like it is stated above though, with Wiz making $2,950,00, Edler at $3,009,000 and youngster Michael Stone at $2,450,000, just too much was being spent on the backend. With the fact that David Backes and Patrick Kane are making career high's in salary plus the teams outlook being a borderline playoff team even with Giordano, something had to give. In fact, more has to give as well with the team currently at a salary commitment of Year 2014: $45,005,000 and that is with waiver eligible John Moore on the farm. Something has to change and right now it looks like Adam McQuaid at just over one million and Anton Stralman at just under 1 million are projected to be on new teams in a couple weeks.
Now that all that is out of the way, time to talk about the real return in the trade: Ryan Strome and Stefan Matteau. Last February I tried to get Strome from the Ducks as well but something around Bobby Ryan just wasn't going to work at that point in time. The #6 pick by the Ducks in the 2011 draft, Strome projects to be a winger when he makes the Devils and should do so as a scoring forward. He immediately becomes the team #1 or #2 prospect depending how highly you think of Bjugstad but either way he is a valuable asset to have. Right now the Devils project Strome to be a future 20 goal, 30 assist kind of player and possibly projects higher than that. To be able to get a future scoring line winger was a very important part of any deal for Giordano and the team feels they managed to do that in getting Strome. Not to be forgotten in the deal is winger Stefan Matteau who doesn't have the same type of offensive upside as Strome as indicated by their AHL numbers. He does project as a safer prospect who should contribute in the bottom six as a physical defensively sound player.
While it sucks to get rid of a franchise type D in Giordano, especially with his ratings this season, to get one top six forward prospect and one bottom six forward prospect is a solid return. The Devils hope with the additions of those two and with further development of Bjugstad, Jenner and Coyle, the team should have a solid forward core to build around. This doesn't mean the 2014-2015 season is being thrown away but the team is realistic about where it sits in a very tough East. With the only top six forwards on the team being Backes, Kane and Bonino it would take a lot of low scoring 2-1 type games to win this year. While the D is still solid even without Giordano, McQuaid or Stralman this year looks to be a bubble type team and the team figured no harm in retooling a little bit and setting sights towards next year.
After the trade the teams top 10 prospects is (very) roughly:
Not bad but not great. A couple sure fire contributers (Bjugstad and Jenner, maybe Donovan) with the new arrivals hopefully being in that category within two years.