General manager Ray Shero has no interest trading draft picks to acquire rental players at this stage in his rebuild of the New Jersey Devils.
The NHL Trade Deadline is Monday, Feb. 29 at 3 p.m. ET. Shero, in an appearance Tuesday on The Power Play on Sirius XM Network Radio, said it will probably be a relatively quiet day for the Devils.
"But like every GM will say, if you can improve the team, you will," Shero said.
The Devils have eight picks in the 2016 draft, including one in the first round. They have five picks, including one first-round selection, in the 2017 draft.
Shero made his first big move as Devils GM a little over two months on the job when he acquired right wing Kyle Palmieri from the Anaheim Ducks on June 27, 2015. The acquisition has paid off in a big way as Palmieri, 25, has already established career-highs with 21 goals and 37 points in 58 games.
Shero traded a 2015 second-round pick and 2016 third-round pick for Palmieri, who can be a restricted free agent after this season.
"I have a lot of respect for what the team has done and accomplished so far," Shero said. "We traded a couple of draft picks for Kyle Palmieri but that deal sort of made sense because Kyle was under contract and you retain his rights for a number of years after that."
Shero supplemented that trade with several key signings prior to, and early in the season to give first-year coach John Hynes some additional pieces. Forward Lee Stempniak has provided secondary scoring and defenseman David Schlemko has been a pleasant surprise on the back end.
The Devils also have gotten the most out of a few prospects in forwards Joseph Blandisi and Reid Boucher, and defensemen Seth Helgeson and Damon Severson. Goaltender Cory Schneider has been solid all season and captain Andy Greene has led a relatively stable group along the blue line.
The Devils, projected by many to miss qualifying for the Stanley Cup Playoffs a fourth straight season, currently hold the first wild card from the Eastern Conference.
When Shero was GM of the Pittsburgh Penguins from 2006-14, he traditionally was an active participant at the trade deadline. The Penguins went to the Stanley Cup Final in consecutive seasons in 2008 and 2009, winning the Stanley Cup in 2009.
"In Pittsburgh it was a different story because we were in a different place, obviously," Shero said. "We were trading lots to try and win every year, but I view being here with the Devils as when I was in Nashville and Ottawa during the expansion years. We were building the teams."
Shero was as an assistant GM for the Ottawa Senators from 1993-98 and assistant GM for the Nashville Predators from 1998-2006.
"If there's hockey deals to be made that's great, or a lateral move that makes sense for us would be fine, but in terms of any big splashes or anything like that, we're going to have to bide our time a little bit," Shero said. "Again, I respect what this team has done so far."
Shero didn't have any expectations entering the season after taking over for Lou Lamoriello, who had been Devils GM since April 1987. During Lamoriello's tenure, the Devils won three Stanley Cup championships, five Eastern Conference titles and nine division titles with 21 Stanley Cup Playoff appearances. Lamoriello was named GM of the Toronto Maple Leafs on July 23, 2015.
"When we had the team in training camp, I told the players and prospects what everyone thought of us and what everyone was saying about us; we weren't exactly sure what would happen," Shero said. "I was fortunate to work with Lou [Lamoriello] for two-and-a-half months before he went to Toronto and I found out about the character of this team from him. He told me about the Andy Greenes, Travis Zajacs and Adam Henriques and those veteran guys. They've really done a great job for us and [Schneider] has been fantastic, but the team has grasped that underdog role and what people read and said before the season started.
"The challenge was trying to write something different, and so far they've done a really good job and the fans have kind of embraced that, so that's been a good thing."