Only at the right price
The New Jersey Devils are bona fide sellers this season as they have regressed from a surprisingly successful 2017-18 season, when the made the playoffs but suffered a first-round ouster by the Tampa Bay Lightning. They’ve already shipped out F Brian Boyle -- one of their veteran leaders and a key locker room presence -- to Nashville for a second-round pick in the 2019 draft, a very nice haul for Boyle who is 34 years old.
General manager Ray Shero will likely look to deal more players on expiring contracts to contenders for additional assets prior to the Feb. 25 Trade Deadline. Players on the list likely include F Drew Stafford, D Ben Lovejoy, G Keith Kinkaid (although it’s doubtful he has any value after his poor play the past two months) and last -- but certainly most intriguing -- F Marcus Johansson.
Johansson stands 6-1, 205 and at age 28, is on an expiring contract. In 46 games played this season he’s got 11 goals and 14 assists (25 points). In his last five games he’s got five points (three goals, two assists). He is heating up at the perfect time for the Devils organization and would be a great fit for any contender’s top two lines. However, Shero should only pull the trigger on a trade for Johansson for the right price. If Boyle was able to fetch a second-round pick, then New Jersey should aim high and settle for nothing less than the same for Johansson, for whom they dealt the Capitals a second and a third last season to acquire. Johansson could be part of the solution in NJ, shipping him out would only set the team back, so the haul better be worth it.
Last season, Johansson was injury prone with two concussions, he’s been healthy for the majority of this season so those concussion issues may be behind him. If Ray can sign up for something along the lines of 3 years x $3.5M, it’s a win for New Jersey.
Marcus Johansson can drive play, force the puck out of the neutral zone and carry it over the blue line with ease due to his speed and hockey sense and can set up some pretty nasty passes as well. Shero should try and keep him around, sign a goal-scorer in the off season to play on Johansson’s right side and then you’ve got two capable lines. If the Devils can’t get fair value, keeping Marcus around will be better in the long run.