Tuesday, July 10, 2007


Vishnevski is Now a Devil

Go to the NHL Player's Association Website. Go to the Devils's list of players. Notice anybody new? No? Here's a hint, I put his name in the title of this post.

Vitaly Vishnevski is now a Devil and will be paid $1.4 million for next season. The link goes to his profile at the NHLPA's site.

Now, let's be realistic here. Vishnevski will not be a top pairing defenseman. He is in the prime of his career at 27 years of age and he definitely is a physical presence on defense. If you're somebody who wanted the Devils to get bigger and more physical, you'll like this signing. Vishnevski is a guy who fits those needs. The downside is that he's caught out position frequently - so you can't rely on him often to provide solid defense - and he brings little offense from the blueline.

That all said, he's a depth defenseman - a #4 at best right now and a #6/bench player at worst. I say at best he's a #4 right now because if there's any team who can help a player improve, especially on defense, it's New Jersey. He won't develop or blossom into a top defenseman, not likely at 27, but if he improves on his positional play, he could see a lot more time on the second pairing than the third. To get an overall picture of the Devils' defense, here is how I would slot everyone:

Third pairing, pick two: Andy Greene, Johnny Oduya, Karel Rachunek, Vitaly Vishnevski

Those question marks are not a mistake. It'll be an interesting fight in training camp to see who gets that #4 spot because in my view, no one has a lock on it just yet. I'd even go as far to say that Matvichuk may end up on the third pairing more than the second pairing - so there will be guys competing for more ice time. I have absolutely no problem with that provided those who win those spots can handle the responsibilities.

With this signing, the Devils' next moves, in my opinion, should be clear: sign Zach Parise and Paul Martin and hire a new coach. Once these steps are met, the roster may be ready - hopefully with plenty of room under the cap. There doesn't seem to be many viable options left on the free agency market - not a lot of talent at forward left, and the Devils have far too many defensemen to sign another one.

MORE INFORMATION UPDATE: TSN.ca confirms the deal, but provides more information. Vishnevski signed with the Devils for 3 years for a contract totalling $5.4 million. An average of $1.8 million (I think that's the salary cap hit?), and Vishnevski will earn $2 million each year in the next two years after this coming season. I guess the Devils see him as a #4 defenseman, otherwise I'd say that's a little much for someone who would be primarily on the third pairing. That said, I still think the spot is up for grabs.


One could always hope that Lou intends to use the minor league loophole to his advantage if Rachunek and/or Vishnevski don't pan out. My vote's still for Souray since he poses an offensive threat and plays just as well defensively as the new guys.
I think this is a great signing. i've followed this guy's career for a while, and while he may get caught out of position, he should be better than a top 4 guy. Someone will ultimately have to go via trade...maybe after training camp because other than Martin, we really don't have an offensive defenseman on the roster.
I think the second pairing will likely be Andy Greene and Matvichik. Rachunek and Vishnevski will be the third. Oduya will be a filler, but it's obvious they don't have too strong a commitment to him at this point.

The 'offensive' d-men will be Martin and the grooming of Greene into the main man on the PP.
You may be right, cd. Though I'm not sure why the Devils went out and spent a combined $3 million for a third pairing when they made a point of it to sign Oduya right away. Greene supposedly has a good upside on offense, but we'll see.

Anonymous: I hadn't considered that. If Fraser or Corrente really impress, that may really force Lou's hand.
Good point on Corrente/Fraser -- I was just wondering what they would do if Corrente has a good showing at camp or if Fraser begins the season at Lowell and quickly shows he's already mastered the AHL. At least Rachunek and Matvichuk are UFA's at the end of the season.
John, Lamoriello announced yesterday that Bergfors will not be playing in Europe and will be in Lowell.

Rich Chere confirmed this.

When will we have a damn coach?
Sweet. I've been away from a computer all day until now, so this is great news. Thanks, anonymous guy who I would give proper credit if I had a name.
Anon, looks like today is the day we get that Head Coach you asked for.

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