Devils GM looking to add top-6 winger under team control at trade deadline
New Jersey Devils general manager Tom Fitzgerald has a clear goal in mind ahead of the March 3 trade deadline.
"If it's possible, I'd like to add a top-six winger," Fitzgerald told The Athletic's Pierre LeBrun. "And I'd like to be able to control the player (past this season) and grow. I'd be willing to give up assets to do that, and I've got to know, 'What does that look like?'"
The Devils have the assets to pull off that deal. They boast one of the deepest prospect pools in the league. The club also has all of its draft picks over the next few years, minus a 2023 third-rounder used to help acquire defenseman John Marino in the offseason.
Fitzgerald couldn't provide specific names, but San Jose Sharks winger Timo Meier is one available player who'd fit the mold. He carries a $6-million cap hit in 2022-23 before becoming a restricted free agent at season's end. Meier's qualifying offer for next campaign is a whopping $10 million before he can become an unrestricted free agent in 2024.
Meier, a powerful but skilled winger, has tallied 28 goals and 20 assists in 49 games for the Sharks this season. With the 26-year-old in his prime, the Swiss product would certainly fit the age criteria for what Fitzgerald is seeking to add to his young, upstart squad.
"I love where we're at, I really do," Fitzgerald said. "Now the fun times start, where you're trying to put the right pieces in the locker room.
"If that means going out and trading assets for a player who can grow and be part of this, hell yeah, sign me up."
One order of business Fitzgerald will have to factor into any long-term move is Jesper Bratt's looming extension. The pending RFA winger is due for a sizable raise from his current $5.45-million cap hit, turning in his second consecutive near point-per-game season with 19 goals and 30 helpers in 48 contests this campaign.
"There has to be buy-in, too, from players," Fitzgerald said of making the salary cap work over the next few seasons. "I think we're building something pretty good here. I've talked to Jesper Bratt. He's excited.
"I really believe he wants to be part of it. But there has to be buy-in from everybody. But what does that look like?"
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