The Pittsburgh Penguins traded defenseman John Marino to the New Jersey Devils for defenseman Ty Smith and a 2023 third-round pick on Saturday afternoon. Marino has five years left on his contract with an average annual value of $4.4 million. Smith has one more year left on his entry-level contract before becoming an restricted free agent after this season.
This is a decent deal for both sides. The Devils is a bit perplexing but Marino is a good young puck mover. Pittsburgh clears Marino’s salary to create a bit more cap space to sign Kasperi Kapanen. The Pens also get back a young defenseman in Smith who showed some promise a few seasons ago before dealing with injuries last season.
Marino, 25, had 25 points in 81 games last season for the Penguins. He was a sixth-round pick back in 2015 by the Edmonton Oilers. Marino spent three seasons at Harvard University before signing a deal with the Penguins.
Smith, 22, was a first-round pick by the Devils back in 2018. He had 23 points in 48 games for New Jersey in 2020-21. Smith missed the beginning of last season due to injury and never really recovered. He finished with 20 points in 66 games, mostly playing on the bottom pair. Smith is still young and was once viewed as a potential power-play QB for the Devils. The Penguins could see potential and turn things around, especially given the type of talent on their roster.
Smith will likely compete for a spot on the blue line with Pittsburgh. Marino makes sense as a middle-pairing defenseman for the Devils. He brings a bit more stability and a sure-thing than counting on Smith to bounce back. New Jersey is loading up on the blue line lately after selecting Slovakian D Simon Nemec with the No. 2 overall pick. The Devils also have Jack Hughes’ brother, Luke Hughes, in the pipeline at Michigan. New Jersey also had issues on the right side of the blue line last season that Marino could help address.