NHL Trade Reaction: New Jersey Makes Blockbuster Trade with Anaheim

NHL trade reaction

The New Jersey Devils and Anaheim Ducks are trade partners once again. Thursday morning the Devils traded rising forwards Adam Henrique and Joseph Blandisi along with a 2018 third round draft pick to Anaheim for stud defenseman Sami Vatanen.

Ray Shero continues to work his magic when it comes to making the New Jersey Devils a better team. Shero continues to believe the Devils need to get back to being a tough defensive team like they were during the championship years. New Jersey’s lack of depth on the blueline is a reason this trade needed to be made.

Vatanen, who is 26 years old and signed through 2020 at a $4.875 million cap hit, gives the Devils a player they desperately need on their defense. By adding Vatanen, they add a defense chew up big minutes on the blue line. He is also a player that can quarterback the power play and help exit the defensive zone much quicker.

Though Vatanen has only recorded four points during 15 games this season, he is normally a 30-40 point defenseman. Not only does he bring skill to the Devils, he brings veteran leadership to a team that needs it. New Jersey’s defense has improved this season with the addition of Will Butcher. Butcher has been great this season, recording 18 points through 24 games, but he is a rookie. Vatanen will be able to show Butcher and the other young defensemen what it takes to win.

Vatanen will meet the Devils in Colorado after the team departs on Thursday. New Jersey plays the Avalanche on Friday and at the Arizona Coyotes on Saturday. While his impact may not be immediate, give him about five games to get used to his new team.

In order to get better as a team, a franchise must part ways with players they really like. The Devils know this first hand when they acquired Taylor Hall from Edmonton. New Jersey had to send defenseman Adam Larsson to Edmonton in order for the trade to work.

In this case, the Devils had to part with Adam Henrique and Joseph Blandisi. Prior to the trade, Henrique had played his entire career with the Devils. The Devils drafted him in the third round of the 2008 NHL Draft. In eight seasons with the Devils, Henrique played in 455 games recording 122 goals and 135 assists.

Henrique’s most iconic moments came during the 2012 run to the Stanley Cup Final. In the first round of the playoffs, Henrique scored the double-overtime game-winning goal to send the Devils to the second round. Henrique would then score a franchise game-winning goal in overtime of Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Final against the New York Rangers to send the Devils to the Stanley Cup Final.

Since that point, Henrique has not done much for the Devils. Henrique has not been the consistent player the Devils hoped he would be. With the emergence of Nico Hischier as a number one center and the return of Travis Zajac, Henrique became expendable.

The Devils can get the Ducks’ 2019 third-round pick if Henrique re-signs in Anaheim prior to that Draft. If Henrique re-signs after, the Devils will get the Ducks’ 2020 third-round pick. If Henrique does not re-sign in Anaheim, the Devils will not get a pick back.

As for Joseph Blandisi, he never got a real fair shake with the Devils. He has been mostly a career minor league player for the Devils. Blandisi has seen time with the big club and hoped he would make the main roster starting this season. However, with the emergence of Jesper Bratt and Brian Gibbons, Blandisi’s time in New Jersey was numbered.

Both players will benefit from a change of scenery. Anaheim has been desperate for help on offense with all their injuries. There had been talks for some time between the Devils and the Ducks about one of their young defensemen of Cam Fowler, Hampus Lindholm, or Sami Vatanen. In fact, there were talks about Pavel Zacha going to Anaheim. Zacha had been a healthy scratch for several games and there was a chance he would go to the minors. So his name was in trade talks. Nothing ever happened.

New Jersey and Anaheim have a history of being trade partners. Back in 2003, New Jersey sent Petr Sykora and several other players to Anaheim for Jeff Friesen and Oleg Tverdovsky. Then on draft day in 2015, Anaheim sent Kyle Palmieri to New Jersey for a second and a third-round pick in 2016 NHL Draft. So it should come as no surprise the Ducks and Devils were dance partners again.

This trade is a win-win for both teams. New Jersey adds defensive help and Anaheim gets offensive help. While many will look at it as a steal from the Devils perspective, Anaheim gets two quality forwards.

Read More: 

NHL Trade Rumors: Is There A Trade Bruin Between Edmonton And Boston?

Jimmy Murphy Chats With The NHL Network To Talk All Things Boston Bruins


Photo Credit: By Lisa Gansky (Flickr: IMG_7400) [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

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