The New Jersey Devils are 6-4-0 since the trade deadline as GM Corey Chernuka looks to make a strong push to clinch a playoff spot.
The trade deadline saw big acquisitions for New Jersey in the form of of Taylor Hall, Mike Hoffman, Alex Killorn, and Jordie Benn. GM Corey Chernuka was widely criticized for paying too much for rental players, and potentially messing with team chemistry going into the stretch drive.
At the end of the day, Chernuka has shown that he is all in on the playoffs this year.
Reporters caught up to the Devils GM to get his thoughts on the deadline and playoff race:
Pierre Lebrun: You were extremely active at and around the deadline. Explain why you felt the need to make so many moves.
Chernuka: "Going into the deadline, our team was struggling with consistency. Despite not being top in the conference, or the division, we feel that our team is built for the playoffs and have a real window here to do some damage. We had lots of discussions with numerous teams, throwing around all kinds of scenarios to supplement different positions. Sometimes you have to take a bit of risk to make the push."
Darren Dreger: What surprised you about the deadline?
Chernuka: "Going into the deadline, it looked like there were going to be a lot of teams on the outside looking in with unrestricted free agents that would surely move. The surprising aspect for us was that some teams chose not to deal certain rentals, despite being unlikely to make the playoffs. This greatly increased the demand for certain players, and as a result, the cost."
Bob McKenzie: Will there be an attempt to re-sign any of the new acquisitions?
Chernuka: "Hall and Hoffman intend on testing free agency. We will see how things go the remainder of the year, but its highly unlikely we could afford to sign both players. We’ve had constructive discussions with Alex Killorn on a contract extension. We expect something to be announced in the next few days."
Mark Spector: Are you satisfied with the team’s play since the deadline? Can you talk about some of the coaching strategy changes as well?
Chernuka: "I’m reasonably satisfied with the club’s play since the deadline. I still think there is another gear that this team can achieve, but chemistry seems to be there. You always have the danger of messing with team chemistry when you start tinkering at the deadline.
"From a coaching perspective, John Tortorella has spaced out the ice time for the top 3 lines to keep guys fresh. This will be handy when it comes to back-to-back games and overtime games. We have 3 lines that are a threat to score any night. John has also brought a bit more of a defensive approach, which contrasts our run & gun style that we ran for most of the season.
"The games have been closer from a scoring perspective, but we have confidence in winning those tight games."