The New Jersey Devils are a playoff team. That much should be sure, as the reigning Eastern Conference champs still sit near the top of the standings more than a third of the way through the season.
Moving forward, the Devils should be focused on how to solidify the team for a playoff run. While they have many strengths, there are certainly issues that can be cleared up.
The easiest way to fill these roster holes are through trades. Last year, the Devils picked up Alexei Ponikarovsky early on, and then acquired defenseman Marek Zidlicky days before the trade deadline. Down the stretch, both players were able to come up huge; Poni even managed an overtime goal against the Flyers to give the Devils the series lead.
Once again, the Devils have an opportunity to shore up their team in preparation for the Stanley Cup playoffs. You can expect them to make some moves, but who would make sense to target?
The following six players are all free agents after this season. reducing their value. Each is attainable, and each would bring a whole new talent to an already dangerous team.
Jarome Iginla is one of the prime targets of this season.
The 35-year-old has played more than 1,200 games, all of them for the Flames. In that time, he's compiled more than 500 goals and more than 560 assists. After this season, the longtime captain will be unrestricted.
Iginla has an Art Ross Trophy, a Ted Lindsay, a King Clancy and two Maurice Richard trophies to his name. One of the few feats he has not achieved is getting his name on the Stanley Cup.
This trade would make a lot of sense: Iginla would go to a Cup contender, and the Flames get a small bounty in return. What the Devils would have to give up isn't yet known, but with a very deep defensive pool, a handful of strong young prospects and a whole lot of pending free agents, there is probably a deal to be made.
And though Iginla hasn't yet won the Cup, he's proven himself extremely helpful in the postseason: He had 22 points in 26 games when the Flames made a Finals run in 2004, and had 49 points in 54 career games.
Corey Perry will be another top target if he doesn't sign a contract extension at season's end. And though he may not be having the most impressive season this year, he's as talented as anyone on this list.
After all, it was just two seasons ago that Perry scored 50 goals and added 48 assists. For his work, he was recognized as the league's leading scorer and as the league's most valuable player, taking home the Hart Memorial Trophy.
Now, Perry is a 27-year-old with more than 50 games of playoff experience. He was part of the team that took home the Cup in 2007, and is part of a current Ducks squad that's only dropped two games in regulation all season.
Luckily for other teams, Perry isn't the only free agent for the Ducks this season. Fellow member of the "Big 3" Ryan Getzlaf will also become unrestricted after this season. The Ducks will want all of their pieces if they plan to make a deep playoff run, but they may also try to trade off one of their stars if they know they won't be able to retain him after the season.
Should the Devils land the star, it would be with the long term in mind. Though he'd definitely help the team immediately, Perry could also be the third player the Devils have been looking for—along with Ilya Kovalchuk and Travis Zajac—to lock down long term for the team's future. Perry could fit in quite nicely with the pair, but it would mean the Devils giving up a lot, and gambling a bit on his re-signing.
Ryane Clowe will be a UFA at season's end, and the top-six forward would fit in quite well with the Devils.
At 6'2", Clowe knows how to throw his weight around. He can be a physical player when needed, but also can provide a scoring touch at times: He has four straight seasons with 45 points, including two 20-goal seasons.
Acquiring the Shark would likely be less difficult than some of the other names on this list, but his presence on the team could have quite an effect. With nearly 70 playoff games in his career, the hardened veteran knows what needs to be done come playoff time.
As a lifelong Shark, he also doesn't know how it feels to hoist the Cup, and a move to New Jersey might be appealing to him for that reason.
Clowe would fit in with most Devils players, but could be especially good when paired with Patrik Elias and David Clarkson, matching their speed, grit and intensity.
Valtteri Filppula may lack the flash or flair of some of the other players on this list, but he would fit in as well as anyone else.
The 28-year-old Finn has spent his entire career honing his two-way play with the Red Wings. Because of an abundance of offensive talent on the Wings, Filppula has sometimes been relegated to a bottom-six role. However, he still has a good deal of offensive ability to contribute.
Filppula could be acquired for a modest amount, and could instantly help solidify an offense that's hurting defensively since losing Zach Parise. Filppula could also lend some stability to the Devils' reeling penalty kill.
Alexander Semin is a bit of an anomaly.
The young Russian has always had amazing offensive talent, but his inconsistency has held him back. Playing on a team (and sometimes a line) with Alex Ovechkin, Semin seemed to develop his game completely around his talent, without trying to develop a full game or working on weaknesses.
After last season, Semin signed a one-year deal with the Carolina Hurricanes for $7 million. Unfortunately, the Canes are struggling, perhaps a bit more than expected, and that means Semin may be available.
As a one-year contract, Semin was always a rental for the team, so if the Devils were able to put together an attractive offer, there's no reason to think the Canes would pass up the ability to add some depth to their team.
Should he be acquired, one of a few things could happen. He could look at Ilya Kovalchuk, see how he's matured as a player since joining the Devils and attempt to transform much like his countryman. It's also entirely possible that he could continue his inconsistent ways, offering adequate scoring most of the time but not much else.
Tyler Kennedy has quietly put together a very good start to his career.
After being grabbed in the fourth round by the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2004, he's been pretty consistent. He has at least 10 goals in each of his first five seasons, getting as high as 21 goals and 24 assists during the 2010-11 campaign.
Those numbers are especially impressive considering how little Kennedy is needed in the Penguins offense.
Now in the last year of a deal, a trade would make sense; Kennedy is a valuable player, but there are other, weaker parts of the game for the Pens to address. It would make sense, then, that the Devils would not have to give up too much to attain the young center from their Atlantic rivals.