A lot has happened since the New Jersey Devils returned from their eight-day break. They have two additional victories under their belt and improved to a record of 13-0-1 versus the Pacific Division this season. The club has earned a 34-13-4 record through 51 games and remains locked into the second position in the Metropolitan Divison behind the Carolina Hurricanes.
The Devils have continued to find various ways to win. Damon Severson has acknowledged there were a few games the team did not play their best but still managed to earn the victory. The club got defenseman John Marino back as he was activated off of injured reserve on Feb. 6. Unfortunately, head coach Lindy Ruff and his team will be forced to deal with further adversity as a prominent injury was announced.
Devils Injury Report: Jack Hughes and Brendan Smith
On Feb. 9, Ruff met with the media and announced superstar Jack Hughes is listed as week-to-week with an upper-body injury.
Ruff confirmed it is not a nagging injury and that Hughes skated a little bit on Feb. 8, but “it’s not right and needs a little bit of time.” The good news is there is optimism that the 21-year-old won’t miss too much time.
“He’s a young guy, that’s going to help him with this,” Ruff continued. “I think it’s going to be on the shorter end of it.”
Another player dealing with an injury is a defenseman, Brendan Smith. The veteran missed practice on Feb. 8, and has an undisclosed injury and is listed as day-to-day.
Alexander Holtz replaced Hughes, while Kevin Bahl jumped into Smith’s place in the lineup when the team hosted the Seattle Kraken on Feb. 9.
Trade Deadline Speculation Begins
The trade deadline is March 3, and the rumors have already begun to swirl. Most news outlets agree New Jersey will be a buyer and a team to watch over the next few weeks, especially after recent moves occurred that have impacted the Metropolitan Division.
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Professional Hockey Writers Association member Tab Bamford reported that someone from the Devils organization was in attendance at the United Center when the Chicago Blackhawks hosted the Anaheim Ducks on Feb. 7. There are a few players that New Jersey could have their eye on from both respective teams including Max Domi, who would help bolster the team’s bottom-six and add the necessary grit needed for the postseason. Some fans have an Adam Henrique reunion on their wish list, but I don’t see the 33-year-old as part of general manager Tom Fitzgerald’s long-term picture.
On the latest episode of 32 Thoughts: The Podcast, Elliotte Friedman and Jeff Marek stated the word around the league is that the “Devils told the San Jose Sharks, before you do anything on Timo Meier, make sure we get a final shot at this”. It is being reported there is a bunch of competition around the 26-year-old, including teams in both the Eastern and Western Conference.
It’s worth noting that it is rumored if Meier feels a legitimate contender wants to sign him long-term, that he is prepared to be reasonable. The follow-up question becomes, what will Meier and his agent find reasonable? Of course, no one knows what reasonable means and what that could translate into as far as dollar signs. In my opinion, one of the biggest questions is if Fitzgerald is comfortable and willing to pay any player more money than Hughes, who has played himself into the Hart Trophy conversation this season.
The Devils will begin a four-game road trip tomorrow when they visit the Minnesota Wild at Xcel Energy Center. Their trip will continue as they visit the Columbus Blue Jackets, St. Louis Blues and wrap things up versus the Pittsburgh Penguins. Be sure to follow me on Twitter for all the latest surrounding the Devils.