Smart moves Tom Fitzgerald made while building a Devils roster to compete for a Stanley Cup
Fitzgerald has made a lot of moves to construct a solid roster. Bill Spaulding of MSG Networks pointed out that “it isn’t just the big moves, but also the smart trades.” Spaulding mentioned two acquisitions that he considers smart moves with great value, Jonas Siegenthaler and John Marino.
Fitzgerald’s smartest move in the past year was the John Marino trade during the 2022 offseason. He traded defenseman Ty Smith and a third-round pick to the Pittsburgh Penguins in exchange for defenseman Marino. Fitzgerald believed that Marino would strengthen the Devils’ back end, which he did. Smith is an offensive defenseman, while Marino is known for his solid defense. Fitzgerald felt Marino’s defense would fit in well with the Devils’ needs.
Marino played a huge role in his first season with the Devils while playing on a line with Ryan Graves. The line saw a lot of time on the penalty kill, with Marino contributing heavily to New Jersey’s successful PK. Marino has a salary of $4.4 million through the 2026-27 season. The Penguins missed the playoffs for the first time in 17 years. Ty Smith spent most of the season in the AHL. Marino was a big part of the reason why the Devils made the playoffs.
Defenseman Jonas Siegenthaler was acquired via a trade in 2021 with the Washington Capitals in exchange for a conditional third-round pick. Siegenthaler then signed a five-year extension during the 2022 offseason with a team-friendly $17 million deal. He has a cap of $3.4 million a season through 2027-28. Siegenthaler took the team-friendly deal because he wanted to stay with the Devils. Like Marino, Siegenthaler is all about defense. This makes him a great fit to pair on a line with Dougie Hamilton, the Devils’ best offensive defenseman. Siegenthaler is a good skater, and he limits opponents’ chances.
Another notable move for Fitzgerald was the Erik Haula trade. It was time for Pavel Zacha to get out of New Jersey, and he was traded to the Boston Bruins in exchange for Haula. Zacha may have had a better season than Haula, but Fitzgerald rightfully stood by the trade during his exit interview, saying, “I’d make that trade seven days a week, twice on Sunday.” Haula brought a veteran presence to the team in addition to 41 points. Haula hasn’t previously found a long-term home. He made it clear he wants to stay in Jersey, and it seems likely that will happen.
Tom Fitzgerald did everything he could with this roster the past few years. He also has a grasp on how to keep the wheels turning in the right direction for the Devils next season. The Devils are finally in a window where they should make several playoff runs in the coming years, and that’s in large part thanks to Fitzgerald’s efforts. Tom Fitzgerald was snubbed in the voting for the 2023 General Manager of the Year finalists. Often, it takes a few times of coming up in the conversation before being recognized. Perhaps Tom Fitzgerald’s recognition will come down the line.