GM Corey Chernuka continues to load up on talent in the Devils' quest for the Cup by acquiring Justin Williams from the Detroit Red Wings.
The Devils shipped winger Josh Leivo, along with prospects Olof Lindblom and Lauri Pajuniemi, to the Red Wings for Williams and a 2nd round pick in the 2020 Entry Draft.
Williams attained the nickname "Mr. Game Seven" by playing in nine Game 7 playoff games in his NHL career, earning an 8-1 record. He's recorded 7 goals and 15 points (an NHL record), won the Stanley Cup three times, and won a Conn Smythe trophy as the Most Valuable Player in the 2014 NHL Playoffs.
Chernuka addressed the media when news broke on the trade.
“Justin Williams is a game breaker that we had targeted in the Dispersal Draft, but unfortunately missed out on. When the opportunity came up to acquire him, we aggressively pursued a deal. He is still an absolutely deadly scorer, a power play phenom, and a leader, despite being in the twilight of his career."
Chernuka continued: “Some may question why we wouldn’t make this type of deal at the deadline. Quite frankly, we are confident in our position as Stanley Cup contenders and we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to acquire Williams.”
“It’s difficult to give up Leivo, since we had high hopes for him. Adding a 2nd round pick was an important aspect of this deal for us," said Chernuka. "Even though our focus is primarily on the now, the upcoming Entry Draft is a unique opportunity we cannot ignore. Our scouts have targeted a number of players that should be available in the second round, in what we feel is a very deep draft class. We might even try to make some additional moves to acquire more picks as we head closer to the draft. Stay tuned!”
Williams talked to reporters briefly via telephone to give his initial thoughts on the trade.
“There’s a lot of turbulence for players in a Dispersal Draft. You sit and wonder where you may end up, then you get selected and you think that’s where you’re going, only to be traded a week later. Good thing I didn’t buy a house yet!”, chuckled Williams.
He continued: “I like the direction of the Devils in that they are looking to win now. I’ve already spoke with Corey and John (Tortorella), and they were very clear with what they saw as my role with this organization. I won’t need to play top line minutes but will still get quality ice time with more advantageous zone starts. Top powerplay time too."
"I don’t have many years left in the league, so it would be nice to win a fourth cup. I think they have something special brewing in New Jersey.”