Archive for the ‘New Jersey Devils’ Category

The OTHER Backstrom is fictionally reunited with Jacques Lemaire (Pick 21)

July 27, 2009
Sadly, there are no silly photos of him.

21. John from In Lou We Trust brings Niklas Backstrom to the New Jersey Devils.

Cap Hit: $6,000,000

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Is the Atlantic now the best division in the NHL?

June 29, 2009

So, with the draft behind us and our free agency coverage ready to begin tomorrow, we don’t have much time for general NHL meandering. But with the mammoth Chris Pronger trade and John Tavares going to the New York Islanders, we couldn’t help but wonder:

Is the Atlantic Division now primed to become the best division in the entire league?

Let’s look at the “Pros” for such an argument.

1. Everything the Penguins bring to the table

It never hurts to have the reigning Stanley Cup champions in your division, especially since they’re obviously not a flash in the pan after going to two SCFs in a row. They might not always be great in the regular season, but it’s hard to deny their heart, hustle and talent.

2. All kinds of elite talent, most of it young

Pronger gives this division the one thing it truly lacked: an elite defenseman (with all due respect to Sergei Gonchar). Pittsburgh features two of the three best forwards in the league. New Jersey saw Zach Parise jump to an elite level and also employs a goalie with more wins than any in NHL history.

Along with Parise and Pittsburgh’s dynamic duo, the Flyers have Mike Richards and Jeff Carter while the Islanders even landed a blue chip in Tavares.

3. Four quality teams

In addition to the Penguins, the Atlantic produced half of the Eastern Conference’s playoff representatives with the Rangers, Flyers and Devils also making it to the postseason.

4. Enigmatic, but potentially outstanding goaltending

Every Atlantic division team has a goalie who could be somewhere between above average to outstanding. Obviously, one must assume that Brodeur is still an outstanding goalie but it goes beyond that.

Henrik Lundqvist consistently puts together borderline Vezina caliber seasons. Marc Andre Fleury was erratic at times in the postseason, but a lot of people will probably remember his save on Nicklas Lidstrom a long time after they forget about some of those awful goals he allowed against the Washington Capitals.

Even the question mark goalies have potential. Sure, Ray Emery is a head case who eats bugs and potentially consumes other harmful toxins in his free time, but let’s not forget that he was often excellent in the Senators’ run to a SCF berth. Say what you want about his lifetime contract, Rick Dipietro was once the future of American goaltending and might still have a chance to be a solid franchise goalie if he can get over his injury concerns.

***

Again, this is looking at the situation before what typically changes the league the most: July 1st. Still, it’s interesting to ask: at this moment in time, did the Atlantic division leapfrog the Pacific and Central as the class of the NHL?

We’d love to hear what you think about that.

In Lou We Trust shares Devils draft prospective

June 25, 2009

The Red Wings receive a lot of credit for coming up with great draft picks despite consistently picking in the lower depths of the first round, but the Devils have historically found their fair share of gems. Will the trend of bringing in the Zach Parise-type bargains continue?

To find out, we asked John at In Lou We Trust to share his thoughts on New Jersey’s upcoming draft. John’s been a steady contributor for quite some time, so make sure to follow his blogging efforts.

Even when the team isn’t being betrayed by various siblings.

1. What direction do you expect New Jersey to go in with this year’s draft? What’s your preference?

I expect and prefer the New Jersey Devils to continue to do what they have been doing – select the best player available regardless of where they are from. That said, they still have their preferences. While the Devils are willing to select a goaltender with their first round pick (Jean-Francois Damphousse, 1997; Ari Ahonen, 1999), considering the Devils haven’t drafted a goaltender since Jeff Frazee in 2005, I wouldn’t hold my breath for one – definitely not in the first round. They may draft one in the later rounds.

Based on draft history since 1994, I expect to see at least one defender drafted and given that the Devils loaded up on centers in 2008, I expect to see more wingers taken. As far as the source of picks, while the conventional wisdom says that the Devils prefer college players, they’ve selected more players from major junior than anywhere else since 1994. Of course, if the best player available in each round are all centers or defensemen or goalies from the USHL or SEL or wherever, then the Devils will take them regardless. It is a cliche, but the Devils truly practice it.

2. Looking back, discuss some of the highest and lowest draft moments in Devils history. What are some of the “steals” and groan-inducing moments that New Jersey fans will never forget?

The highest draft moments tend to come in hindsight – trading down to select Martin Brodeur in 1990; but two stick out in memory as being particularly bold.

The first involved a deal with Toronto that eventually got the Devils the third overall pick in 1991. New Jersey knocked that one out of the park, eschewing Aaron Ward, Scott Lachance, Alex Stojanov, Peter Forsberg (OK, he would have been an alright pick!), and Richard Matvichuk by selecting Scott Niedermayer. Yeah, that was a good pick.

The second is more recent, taking place in 2003. The Devils won their third Stanley Cup that year, but as part of the compensation from St. Louis in a player tampering case, the Devils were able to swap first round picks to move up 22nd overall, if I recall correctly. The Devils noticed that Zach Parise was falling – even past his father’s team, the Islanders, at #15 (Robert Nilsson) and San Jose at #16 (Steve Bernier). They contacted Edmonton and offered to swap first rounders, with the Oilers getting New Jersey’s second round pick to make it work. The Oilers bit and the Devils were able to snag the supremely talented Parise after winning the Stanley Cup!

The lowest draft moments in Devils history? Admittedly, I’m only familiar with the more recent drafts – Devils fans from 1982 and onward I’m sure have a few stories about that. Anyway, you can attribute some of this to hindsight (Lance Ward in 1996); but the selections of J-F Damphousse and then Ahonen 2 years later both made me groan at the time. The decision to select Adrian Foster with 2001’s first round pick was also a head-scratcher; I should have known when the draft was delayed because the league had to confirm that he was actually a player! Likewise, the Devils going off the board with their first pick – in the second round, mind you – to pick Anton Kadeykin induced some sighs. I’m not even sure where Kadeykin actually is these days, come to think of it.

Soapbox time: take this opportunity to discuss the Devils and/or NHL in general.

As far as a soapbox is concerned, I would like everyone just to check out In Lou We Trust for consistent thoughts about the Devils and I would like to, once again, congratulate Lou Lamoriello on his induction into the Hockey Hall of Fame while still serving as GM, President, and CEO. Lou truly is the best around.

If you liked Hockey Orphan, you might like:

April 11, 2009

There have been a bunch of Hockey Orphan entries the last couple weeks, so we thought it would be a smart idea to point fans of the recently represented teams to posts that they might find interesting and/or entertaining.

Montreal Canadiens (
Written by HabsFan29 from Four Habs Fans)

Twinsies: How the Montreal Canadiens are the NHL’s version of the Boston Celtics

The Canadiens would be the most exciting matchup for the Boston Bruins

Columbus Blue Jackets (
Written by Bethany from Bethany’s Rants)

Chris Kontos thought the Blue Jackets would be the San Jose Sharks’ best dance partner


Florida Panthers (
Written by Whale4Ever from Litter Box Cats)

Who IS Jay Bouwmeester, anyway?

The Return of the Rat Pack

10 Things that are cool about the Florida Panthers


New Jersey Devils (Written by John Fischer from In Lou We Trust)

A post with a bunch of the Brodeur links

Comparing Brodeur to the Plantes and Vezinas of yore is a losing endeavor

Brodeur is voted the goalie of the aughts

Are Brodeur-type workhorse goalies a dying breed?

Remember when the hockey world was stunned that the Devils seemed like they didn’t miss a beat without Brody?

Philadelphia Flyers (Written by FGSB from Flyers Goal Scored By)

Salary Cap Outlook: Flyers

San Jose Sharks (Written by Gray from Couch Tarts)

Dance Partners: San Jose

Both teams have had their struggles, but it’s interesting that Boston – San Jose still might have been a Stanley Cup preview

***

Of course, there is also a bunch of content on all the Hockey Orphan teams in our trade deadline coverage as well.

Hockey Orphan: John Fischer from In Lou We Trust on the New Jersey Devils

April 9, 2009
Click the logo about to read all the Hockey Orphan entries

(Thanks to John from In Lou We Trust for the New Jersey Devils entry. Make sure to follow Lou, Marty and Co. as they try to break more records and hearts. Another fantastic SB Nation blog.)

Life is about choices. More likely than not, you choose what to think, what to eat, what to drink, what to do for work, what to believe in, and what to imagine among other things. Relevant to this feature, you choose who you support within a sport. Before going any further, let me thank you for choosing to support hockey. It truly is the greatest sport on Earth, combining physicality, athleticism, finesse, speed, and emotion like no other sport. The National Hockey League features the best players in the entire world at hockey, giving their all on the ice more often than not – particularly in the postseason. These are the fundamental choices one must make before supporting a team and I laud you for making those choices. Even when either one becomes aggravating at times.
Back to teams, I can think of no other team to support than the New Jersey Devils. Sure, I am a big Devils fan, to the point where I spend my free time typing far too many words about the team I love. I am not an unbiased observer. And why should I be? Pretty much all hockey fans were at the same place you were at one time or another, about to make this choice. Why shouldn’t I offer my own spiel to sway your decision? After all, I truly believe that the Devils are the right choice.

The best way I can sum up the Devils’ overall is that organization is a model of consistent success. This is not a team that will throw out its leadership or its philosophy for the latest flavor of the month. The current general manager is also the team’s president and CEO, Lou Lamoriello. Lou isn’t perfect, but he’s been nothing short of remarkable for what he turned the Devils into today. He set the values for the team that are still followed today: professionalism, strong character, and a commitment to team work and defensive play. Players with extra baggage, arrogant “superstars,” players who whine consistently, and general “locker room cancers” are quickly shown the door in New Jersey. This is a team that respects each other as well as the organization as a whole. This is a team that one cannot really complain about its personnel outside of their performance. This is a team where the top players, who could get “more productive” roles on other teams or more money, choose to stay with New Jersey for less money because they know they have a better chance at success. If any of this interests you, then New Jersey should be your choice.
The Devils also do not care to please opponents. Whereas the other teams in the league favor certain styles of play, the Devils are committed to what is best for them. The Devils brought back the neutral zone trap in the mid-1990s and performed like a machine with it their first Stanley Cup in 1995 and multiple division titles soon after. Critics and fans of opposing teams reviled the Devils for being boring or being too defensive or killing hockey or whatever. Did New Jersey ever listen to them? No. They just kept winning games. And when the team had the offensive talent, they opened things up. The critics, stuck in the past as critics often are, still had the same complaints. New Jersey just went onto win their second Stanley Cup in 2000 and came one game short in 2001 for a repeat. The Devils returned to their defensive ways, but playing a more tight checking game than a direct neutral zone trap, and clawed their way to a third Stanley Cup in 2003. Even after the lockout, with all sorts of rule changes and other incentives to increase scoring, the Devils remain as one of the league’s top teams. The team now plays more of a puck-possession style of hockey, preferring to win it along the boards and let the play come to them defensively. Did it matter what the rest of the league was doing? No. The Devils continue to do what is best for them and since their breakout year of 1993-94, they have made the playoffs every year with the exception of one season, won 7 division titles, 4 Stanley Cup final appearances, and 3 Stanley Cups. The results are proof that the Devils’ method works; and needless to say, we’re quite pleased with it. If such a commitment to excellence despite the means interests you, then New Jersey should be your choice.
As it stands, the Devils also have players of note that demand your attention. One of the failings of the franchise is a lack of marketing and trumpeting of the team’s success and their players. Nevertheless, and this is written in a book, if you seek, then you shall find. The Devils currently boast one of the game’s greatest goaltenders in net: Martin Brodeur. He is now the all-time leader in wins in NHL history, he is closing in on the most shutouts in NHL history, and he has achieved every major award a goaltender could win outside of being named the league’s Most Valuable Player. He’s 36 and he’s still making unbelievable saves on any given night. Brodeur will continue to do so until the end of his career. The Devils also feature Patrik Elias, who recently became the franchise scoring leader. He has excellent one-on-one skills, brilliant vision, and a solid work ethic. All this and he’s excellent at coming back to help the defense. Elias has seen and done it all for the Devils throughout his career. As far as legends to come, this season saw the breakout of Zach Parise. The Devils traded up for this talent in 2003 and he’s currently paying massive dividends. He’ll go to the net for loose pucks, he’ll take big hits fighting for the puck in corners, he’ll constantly hustle for pucks all game long, he’ll take shot after shot after shot on net, and, like Elias, he’ll make the seemingly impossible possible. He’s one of the league’s leading scorers and the best is yet to come from Parise. Devils legends like Brodeur and Elias, and future ones like Parise will give you something to marvel at on any given night. Combine that with the fact that the team as whole will work hard to make something happen, going back to the team’s values, and it’s no wonder why the Devils get the results they have. If any of this interests you at all, then New Jersey should be your choice.
I understand this is a lot to take in, but consider the bigger picture. This isn’t just a good team; or a passing fad. The New Jersey Devils are an excellent organization overall and the results show that. This is a team that hasn’t had to re-build since the late 1980s-early 1990s, they only look to continuously improve themselves. This is a team that looks to compete for the Stanley Cup every season instead of settling for a high draft pick. This is a team that has their style of play; the players (for the most part) utilize it effectively; and has many fans of other teams scratch their heads and go, “How come the Devils are so good? Why can’t my team play like that?”

From my perspective, the choice is either to support a team that will look to do something every season or to support a team that will not even come close to meeting the same level of success. I really don’t see how choosing New Jersey wouldn’t be an excellent at all. I’m sure you will make the right choice.

Living GM vs. Blogging GM: Atlantic division

March 12, 2009

To wrap up our Trade Deadline coverage, we’ll take a look at the big moves (and non-moves) in each division one-by-one. Did our contributors and their respective GMs see eye-to-eye? Would those guest posts provide a better reality than what really came about? Let’s take a look at the Atlantic division.

Real Life: Pittsburgh Penguins traded a bag of pucks for Bill Guerin

Tony Ferrante from The Confluence (Kukla’s Korner) said:

“If I were GMRS (GM Ray Shero), I’d trade Ryan Whitney for Chris Kunitz and Eric Tangradi (just kidding, but a good move). Then I’d trade Hal Gill and a mid-round draft pick for either another winger or an agitator (Neil). I would also not rule out some kind of move for another defenseman …

Boy, a lot of Pens bloggers wanted to get rid of Hal Gill but it didn’t happen. I wasn’t crazy about the Guerin pickup, but at least they gave up next to nothing for him.

Real Life: New York Rangers make typical crazy Glen Sather moves: they acquired Derek Morris and Nik Antropov for a second round pick, a conditional pick, Dimitri Kalinin, Nigel Dawes and Petr Prucha.

Patrick Hoffman from Goal Line Report (Kuklas Korner) said:

“However, the only thing that will probably happen this week is that the club will claim Sean Avery off re-entry waivers and dump a salary or two. A lot of Blueshirt fans will wish it will be someone like Wade Redden or may be even someone like Drury but believe me when I say that those two aren’t going anywhere.

To sum it all up, this team is stuck with the roster that Sather built during these past two off-seasons, for better or worse.”

Well, the Rangers are stuck … more stuck. OK, so the guys they added are UFAs but they lost two draft picks and some borderliners for not much. Sather’s always a good source of laughter.

Real Life: The Islanders get next to nothing for Bill Guerin. Fail to dump salary. Fail fail fail.
Dominik from Light House Hockey said:

“Oh wait, this was about trades? Well, in that case, sell, SELL, SELL! UFA Andy Hilbert is a useful defensive forward and penalty killer who’s having a “career” year (shhhhh: 10 G = career year). Take best offer. Same with Guerin (in the works) and even the injured Doug Weight, due back from IR by the playoffs. Parlay Dean McAmmond — who looks alive since coming over for Comrie — for scraps. If someone somehow asked me for Jeff Tambellini — who can’t score outside of the shootout or the AHL — I’d pay his airfare and meal tab.”

Nope, sadly, just Guerin. Oh well.

Real Life: The Devils decide to settle for their embarrassment of riches.

John Fischer from In Lou We Trust said:

“If I were the GM of the Devils, I would be hanging up the phone and saying the phrase “Sorry, but we’re not interested” over and over again over the next few days. Especially if the call begins with “We would like to know the availability of Travis Zajac or Johnny Oduya.” Basically, I’d ignore the trade deadline unless a team really, really wants Scott Clemmensen or Kevin Weekes and is offering an offensive defenseman.”

Bingo.

Real Life: Flyers trade Scottie Upshall, 2011 second round pick and a 6th round draft pick for Kyle McLaren and Daniel Carcillo

Flyers Goal Scored By said:

“We then would put everyones’ names around a dartboard, chug out 3 beers, and then fire 4 darts to see who is going. Then really hot souf philly girls would come into our office and tell us how awesome we were at “GM’ing” and then totally make out with each other, and then us, and then back to each other until 3pm. Then we’d high-five and crush a cheesesteak before falling asleep to old Rick Tocchet highlights. Being a GM rules … “

(OK, they also said that they should go after Jay Bouwmeester.)

Instead of going after Bouwmeester, the Flyers made a move for an immobile defenseman and one of the most undisciplined players in the NHL. In other words, they did the same thing they’ve been doing for …. 30 years?

If you were the GM (Atlantic division)

March 4, 2009

(With the trade deadline upon us, Cycle like the Sedins decided to ask about 30 or so friends in the blogosphere to represent his or her team and answer the question: “What would you do if you were the GM during the trade deadline?

Since things change in a heartbeat, the date of each person’s submission is listed next to each entry. So before you start screaming “BUT THEY TRADED HIM!” while food spills out of your mouth, we’re showing what they thought at the time.

Don’t like it? Psh.)

Pittsburgh Penguins
(March 2)
Denson from Bangin’ Panger

Well, the Pens are on a roll lately…getting themselves back into the playoff picture. What, you may ask, has attributed to such a turn around? Obviously it is the arrival of this Jordan Staal character that must have come over with the Chris Kunitz/Ryan Whitney trade. Don’t know too much about this Staal guy, according to every game ever against the Hurricanes and Rangers … he has brothers that play in the NHL as well. Who knew?

So if I’m Ray Shero what are my next moves? Well for one, Shitan is traded for one of Jerome Iginlas extra mucles in-between his Tibialis anterior and Peroneus longus (the muscle that makes black people go real real fast)…and it is implanted in Hal Gill. Mario Lemieux comes out of retirement to replace Shitan to stand on the opposing team’s blueline all game…only Mario will score. Phillepe Bouche is traded for acid to fill Crosby’s tear ducts…so when Ovechkin bullies him, Crosby’s tears will melt Ovechkin. And a 2nd and 3rd round draft pick is able to fetch Malkin some Hooked On Phonics lessons and Crosby some Shit Talking Lessons with Joey Porter. This all would obviously make the Pittsburgh Penguins the favorite for the Stanley Cup.

(2/28)
Frank D from Pensburgh

Chris Kunitz picked up the same amount of points in the first period of the first game he played in Pittsburgh (1G, 1A) as Ryan Whitney did over his last seven games as a Penguin. If I were the GM I’d look to make that upgrade another 15 to 20 times.

(2/28)
Tony Ferrante from The Confluence (Kukla’s Korner)

If I were GMRS (GM Ray Shero), I’d trade Ryan Whitney for Chris Kunitz and Eric Tangradi (just kidding, but a good move). Then I’d trade Hal Gill and a mid-round draft pick for either another winger or an agitator (Neil). I would also not rule out some kind of move for another defenseman …

(3/01)
Stefanie from Steel City Sports

If I was Ray Shero, I’d be giving my “Big Guns” a rest right now and sleep through March 4th!!

Seeing as how Shero already pulled the trigger twice for big moves prior to the trade deadline, I’m hoping he’s not going to do much more.

He’s honestly coming out of this smelling like a rose right now anyway (seeing as how Bylsma looks like a Savior even though it’s more like his system that’s saving the Pens for now), but I still think his decision to fire Therrien sucks and the bottom line is that the Pens began their downward spiral in the off-season thanks to his “wise” decisions when he tried too hard to sign Hossa. That screw job was two-fold: 1) Hossa waited absolutely too long before he “told” us he wasn’t coming back which led to our losing alot of important / key players such as Malone and Ruutu among others (my readers know all too well my thoughts on this though as I’m still lamenting); b) Shero was crazy to wait so long to hear back from Hossa — these two things were the beginning of the demise of the Pens this season and it’s been too much to recover from — all at the hands of their own GM being too enamoured by one Marian Hossa (who I cannot stand at this point, but never really could)!


I’ve gone from thinking Shero was a genius to coming to my senses right now realizing that his most recent decisions make him nothing more than a screw-up. So here’s to hoping that Shero will be quiet leading up to the upcoming trade deadline as I believe Kunitz has been the spark we need to make it into the playoffs by the skin of our teeth!!!

Chris Kontos: Shitan is one of the funniest reverse-nicknames I’ve heard in a long while. The Penguins made a great pickup in Chris Kunitz, a decent offensive player who will pick it up even more with Crosby. The Penguins are going to struggle to make the playoffs but I don’t know if another move is really going to help this team.

James O’Brien: For hockey newbies, the spelling of Satan’s last name is high comedy. Once you get to know him more, you realize Shitan really is the better connection. Have to agree that the Kunitz move is paying dividends and all it cost the Penguins was a guy who wore out his welcome. No more moves needed until the summer.

***

New York Rangers

(2/28)

Patrick Hoffman from Goal Line Report (Kuklas Korner)

If I was New York Rangers General Manager Glen Sather, I’d probably be in hiding since most of my team’s fans are calling for my head on a nightly basis at Madison Square Garden.

In all seriousness, if I am Glen Sather, I would look into getting a finisher. Could that be a guy like Bill Guerin? Could it be someone like Illya Kovalchuk? If it’s guys like that they’re after, the team will have to shed some salary as well as a top player from either their current roster or their farm system.

However, the only thing that will probably happen this week is that the club will claim Sean Avery off re-entry waivers and dump a salary or two. A lot of Blueshirt fans will wish it will be someone like Wade Redden or may be even someone like Drury but believe me when I say that those two aren’t going anywhere.

To sum it all up, this team is stuck with the roster that Sather built during these past two off-seasons, for better or worse.

Chris Kontos: The Drury and Gomez tag team signing is going to haunt this team for a long time. Even after they eventually waive Redden. Getting the Dallas Stars sloppy seconds (too soon?) off of waivers is going to help this team a lot. Avery is at his best when he feels like he has a lot to prove.

James O’Brien: Jeez, it didn’t take long for the lockout intelligence to wear off in New York, did it? People are going to blast the Wade Redden signing (and they did overpay for a guy whose stock went down), but say what you want Redden at least at some point seemed talented. Michal Rosival and Chris Drury are the two signings that were the worst (although giving Scott Gomez a Brad Richards-type contract is pretty bad too) because these players never showed ANY evidence to live up to those contracts.

Drury, in my book, is one of the most over-loved players in the NHL. Sure, he’s a nice guy and has intangibles out the wazoo. But for a guy with a 60 point skill set, he sure gets deified a lot.

Anyone the Rangers can unload would be great. Aside from Henrik Lundqvist, the one player Sather somehow lucked into. Don’t you get the feeling that Lundqvist’s name was found on a napkin thrown out by a Detroit Red Wings scout or something? The Rangers are just such an terribly run franchise. It’s stunning.

***

New York Islanders
(2/28)
Dominik from Light House Hockey

If I were Garth Snow, I would:

Permanently change the uniform scheme back to the original royal blue version as with this season’s thirds, and never speak of any other Islanders uniform again. (Editor’s note: Amen, Dominik. You’re a wise man.)

Oh wait, this was about trades? Well, in that case, sell, SELL, SELL! UFA Andy Hilbert is a useful defensive forward and penalty killer who’s having a “career” year (shhhhh: 10 G = career year). Take best offer. Same with Guerin (in the works) and even the injured Doug Weight, due back from IR by the playoffs. Parlay Dean McAmmond — who looks alive since coming over for Comrie — for scraps. If someone somehow asked me for Jeff Tambellini — who can’t score outside of the shootout or the AHL — I’d pay his airfare and meal tab.

Obviously, the Islanders don’t have much left to sell. But there is one outstanding issue: Brendan Witt, who was capable last season yet awful this one. He doesn’t seem to fit Scott Gordon’s system, yet he has two years left on his contract. While it’s tempting to take the first offer that’s not a prank, on this I’d play the psychology game and wait for that one vulnerable GM with the happy trigger finger. The GM whose team just got pushed around in a conference battle this week and has him (and his fans) second-guessing whether his otherwise loaded team is the proverbial “tough enough for the playoffs.” Find that GM, demand a ransom (like a 1st-round pick and/or real prospect) for this battle-tested warrior [cue “Braveheart” soundtrack during GM call], and let him know I’d be just as happy waiting to deal Witt in the offseason for the scraps he’s currently offering me. If he bites, genius! If not, meh, try to unload or reprogram Witt in the summer.

It goes without saying that, for any and all of the returns for these players, I would persuade Charles Wang to wait until the picks become actual stars before offering them decade-plus contracts. But that’s just me.

Chris Kontos: Get rid of Witt before he starts taking cheap shots on his own players. And definitely keep losing to get Tavares. Then hire Mike Milbury again so that he’ll trade Tavares for Rico Fata and Radek Bonk.

James O’Brien: Haha, hard to top Chris on that one. As I’ve said, Ilya Kovalchuk + Jon Tavares = possible salvation. Or at least the first few steps. Trade everyone. EVERRRRYYYYOOONNNNNEEEE.

***

New Jersey Devils

3/01

John Fischer fromIn Lou We Trust

If I were the GM of the Devils, I would be hanging up the phone and saying the phrase “Sorry, but we’re not interested” over and over again over the next few days. Especially if the call begins with “We would like to know the availability of Travis Zajac or Johnny Oduya.” Basically, I’d ignore the trade deadline unless a team really, really wants Scott Clemmensen or Kevin Weekes and is offering an offensive defenseman.

2/27

Daniel Owens from Frozen Fiend

If I were Loophole Lou …

I’d pluck Avery off waivers just to make sure the Rangers didn’t get him. Then I would fire Sutter and take over the coaching reins myself. And last but not least, I would play Weekes on the last day of the season to make sure Toronto doesn’t make the playoffs.

Seriously though, I’m not sure that there is anything to do. It’s not like a Rupp/Clemmer/draft pick/prospect package is going to be enough to get any player of significance in return. And I don’t think that anything more than that would be worth giving up.
“Hey, David Poile, we’re trying to get the band back together. I’ll trade you this bag of pucks for Arnott. Come on, whattaya say?”

The current Devils lineup is the one that took over first place in the Atlantic. Why change a thing?

Chris Kontos: Much like the Predators are amazing to James, the Devils’ success continue to boggle my mind. And since Brodeur is having such a hard time (/sarcasm) adjusting to being back… I’d say the Devils are in fantastic shape. I think getting rid of Weekes for a draft pick or so would be a great move.

James O’Brien: Ugh, Loophole Lou is getting old. Scott Clemmensen puts up great numbers and … is sent to the AHL? It’s not as bad as banishing Alexander Mogilny, but it’s pretty obnoxious.

***

Philadelphia Flyers (EDIT: WE HAVE A GUEST POST WOOOO!)

Submitted by: Flyers Goal Scored By (March 4)If We were GMS,
Well first off, we’d sneak into Ed Snider’s office, skim a little off the top of his massive piggybank, and get to the store for the trade-deadline-day specials: 2 cases of Sierra Nevada, a pack of smokes, some condoms, and massive amounts of beef jerky.

We then would put everyones’ names around a dartboard, chug out 3 beers, and then fire 4 darts to see who is going. Then really hot souf philly girls would come into our office and tell us how awesome we were at “GM’ing” and then totally make out with each other, and then us, and then back to each other until 3pm. Then we’d high-five and crush a cheesesteak before falling asleep to old Rick Tocchet highlights. Being a GM rules…..

In reality, we’d be stressed as shit if we were the Flyers GM. They are getting constant pressure from the media and fans about “making a move”. So one just has to ask, “What’s worth making a move for?”. If we were GMs, we’d be targeting two players, J-Bo and Nikky Backstrom. Since the Wild secured their #1 goalie, that leaves the Flyers with some run-of-the-mill talent to look at. No one can convince me that Bryzgolov or Lehtonen are better than Biron or Nitty. Our goalies are decent enough, and they will stop pucks. What they won’t be able to stop is 40+ shots a game. Enter in JBo. Everyone knows the Flyers need a big defenseman, and no one is sexier right now than Mr. Meester. But what to give up for the guy? Do we toss Florida our junior-college star in James VanRiemsdyk or our blossoming sniper Claude Giroux? There answer is no. Those guys are the future, and will be studly forr years to come. We give up guys who we don’t really want anymore. Guys who in college were cool Freshman year, but then as you got to know them and see how they act when they’re drunk, you’re like “Why am I friends with this guy? He peed on my couch!” There are 4 names out there that look expendable: Randy Jones, Matt Carle, Joffrey Lupul and Scottie Upshall. those guys are talented and are everyday players. Is that enough for JBo? Well, we’ll have to wait and see.

Bottom line: If it’s not JBo, we’re not buying into it.

James O’Brien: Agreed: J-Bow or nothing.

Morning cycle: NBC drops the ball again

February 16, 2009

  • To the surprise of few, NBC indeed picked the wrong game on Sunday.
The peacock decided to go for a yawn-inducing big market game we’ve seen five million times (New York Rangers vs. Philly Flyers) instead of a game featuring two of the five best teams in the league. What did they get? Henrik Lundqvist getting pulled in the second period of a matchup that probably was decided well before that.

San Jose Sharks at New Jersey Devils, aka the game that NBC should have chosen, ended up being a wild 6-5 game. (At least, that’s what highlights and recaps indicate) Judging from the great audience attracted by the big Boston Bruins – San Jose Sharks last Tuesday, it seems that NBC misjudged demand.
It goes further than that. This is the another reason that the NHL needs to think seriously about the quality of its coverage beyond dollars and cents, even if Versus provides bush league coverage at times. How many times can the league tolerate NBC’s “whatevah, hockey” approach? Shouldn’t the NHL do everything it can to introduce the San Jose Sharks (easily one of the three favorites for the Cup) to casual viewing hockey audiences? Is the league really going to stick with a network that relocated an intense overtime playoff hockey game for the PRESHOW of a horse race?

(Let that last sentence marinate in your soul.)

As usual, Puck the Media features great coverage of NBC’s short-sighted decision.

We know, we know, it’s a small-market game, and Sharks fans would be forced to awaken at the ungodly hour of 9:30 AM on a Sunday morning for a hockey gam(Something we, mind you, have always dreamed of). But this is the PERFECT weekend to try it out. Competition for the audience that’d be watching a hockey game is pretty slim. The NBA All-Star Game isn’t till primetime, and the Daytona 500 doesn’t feature much of a hockey-friendly audience (Prove me wrong, Raleigh). This is the one chance the NHL has to experiment with a game that might just draw the passing fancy of some channel-flipper and they missed.

  • Moving on to happier news, Mike Green managed to break the record for consecutive goals scored by a defenseman.
Could it be safe to say already, even counting their Cinderella run to the Cup Finals in the Bondra era, this might be the best season for the Capitals? Beyond that, the Capitals remind me of a revamp of the ’90s Detroit Red Wings teams.

Look at all the Russians in high-ranking spots. Obviously, it all starts with Alex Ovechkin, but there are a lot of big responsibility guys on that roster who are Russian. Whenever he’s healthy, Alex Semin is blossoming into an elite forward. Viktor Kozlov might seem like an underachiever but he’s a nice addition (or as Japer’s Rink called him, “a Lebowski rug”) to the Capitals. Hell, they even employ former Red Wing Sergei Fedorov.
  • Which team is third best in the Western Conference? Because of divisional playoff seeding, the Calgary Flames should slip into the third spot. That being said, the best team after juggernauts in Detroit and San Jose might just be the Chicago Blackhawks.
Chicago destroyed the Dallas Stars 6-2 after putting together a nice 5-3 record during an eight-game road trip. After facing three more road games in a row, the Blackhawks won’t face more than two back-to-back road games.

It probably won’t allow Chicago to put any pressure on division-leading Detroit. However, the easy road ahead might allow the Blackhawks to go into the playoffs with some momentum and relative good health.
  • The Penguins fired Michel Therrien this weekend.
Normally, it’s ridiculously unfair to fire a coach who managed to lead a team to the Cup finals the year before but context is important. My guess is a highly trained dolphin could coach last year’s Penguins team to at least the Conference finals.

At the same time, Therrien deserves credit for shepherding the young Penguins from cellar dweller to contender. Who knows how much of it was Therrien, but at times the Pens looked to have “good defensive team” potential, a rare sentence even for Pittsburgh’s golden era.

One thing that bothers me (and usually, only NBC guys say these kind of things) is how much certain pundit-idiots weigh Marian Hossa‘s absence for being a big reason for the Penguins missing the playoffs.

Hossa played 12 regular season games for Pittsburgh, so ease off the accelerator on that one. He gave the Penguins an extra gear, but that mattered in the post-season, not in making the playoffs. Just a pet peeve.

Therrien’s firing is justified but seemed like it could have waited until the summer. It’s not the fault of HCMT (credit Pensblog) that the Penguins are having a miserable season. That falls on the players shoulders first, Ray Shero’s next and then HCMT. But HCMT is the easiest guy to fire and that’s that.

It’s looking more and more improbable for the Penguins to make the playoffs. The question is: does it even matter if they make it? It seems hard to imagine this team making a Cinderella run right now.

From the "out of left field" department

December 20, 2008
Patrik Elias is having a sneaky good year.
  • After reading all those New Jersey season obituaries after Marty Brodeur injured his elbow, you’d think there would be just as many headlines about the Devils’ astounding offensive run. According to the awesome highlight show NHL on the Fly, the Devils have scored 26 goals in their last six games. That’s more than 4 goals per game.

It’s been a banner year for the fascinating blog Brodeur is a Fraud and hockey pundits who downplay the importance of a franchise goaltender. Seriously, Tim Thomas?

  • Couldn’t find a high quality version of David Krejci‘s spectacular goal one night after the fact, but this video still includes it. One of my absolute favorites of the year.

Who saw Krejci coming? It seems like he’s legitimately good, too: his 32 points in 31 games is pretty unreal for someone who’s supposed to be a third-liner. Seriously, he’s hotter than Carla Gugino right now. It’s pretty hard to top 23 points in 13 games and points in all but one.

  • The NHL Network, NHL ’09 and the hockey blogosphere are like a potpourri of crack for a puck nerd. Until the NHL Network, it looked like NHL Center Ice would be for next year but now my addiction is too severe.
  • Late 2008 is, dare I say, an almost unprecedented period of cross-sport regular season dominance.
Not since the days of Big Van Vader have we seen such dominance

Even though they’re floundering in a worrisome way now, the New York Giants were steamrolling teams week after week. The Sharks’ reign of terror broke a few irrelevant “at 30 games played” all-time records. Last but not least, the Los Angeles Lakers, Cleveland Cavaliers and Boston Celtics are on paces that challenge the best video game seasons in ridiculous winning percentages.

It looks like 2009 might be “reality check” time, although that probably won’t be the case in basketball. The Lakers and Sharks going on the road more often will give those teams their truest tests.

  • Everyone probably knows this already, but make no mistake about it: Mats Sundin went to Vancouver for money. That doesn’t mean he’s wrong or that the Canucks aren’t worthy, it’s just hard not to roll your eyes when people try to paint any other picture.

Surely, having a shit load of Swedes doesn’t hurt either.