And we finally have some news coming out of New Jersey. Tom Gulitti is reporting that Sheldon Brookbank and Mike Mottau will return in Devils colors, having signed new deals with the team. Brookbank has signed for $500,000 per year for two years and Mottau has signed for $750,000 per year for two years.
To be honest, as depth or third-pairing defensemen, this is a good idea and a good bargain. Over half of the 9 from last season were free agents and now there will be some general stability from last season on the blueline. Brookbank played 44 games last season; and Mottau was a regular for the first time in his career - 76 games with New Jersey and all 5 playoff games. Granted, both weren't spectacular; but they were serviceable enough. I'd say that their contracts are fair; and keeping them around won't hurt the team.
That said, it wouldn't be a bad idea to add a free agent defenseman. With a 27.5 shots against per game average, ranking eighth best in the league, the Devils defense was definitely better than the sum of their parts. This is largely due to the emergence of Paul Martin and Johnny Oduya as solid defensemen and Colin White continuing to play well in spite of his eye injury. Still, the top four is Martin-Oduya, White, and...maybe Mottau? Given the Devils' poor shooting
and their lackluster offense, signing a more offensive-minded defenseman who can play on that second pairing and has a strong shot at the point could result in some more gains for New Jersey. We would see improvements on special teams - particularly on a power play that needs it - and at the same time get someone who has more experience in that role than Mike Mottau. Considering the list of prominent unrestricted free agents at Spector's
, there's some viable options on defense. The Devils have quite a bit of cap space, so the money is there even if they want to go after a big name, first-pairing calibur defenseman like Wade Redden. And let me tell you, from what I've seen of him, I think Redden would fit all of these needs and make the Devils a much better team. He'll be popular come July 1st, so the Devils should also consider taking a look at John-Michael Liles or Brian Campbell. Even though both are not as defensively strong as I'd like, if Devils defense from last season can still be fairly good with Brookbank, Andy Greene, Karel Rachunek, and Vitaly Vishnevski being rotated in and out of the line up, then I wouldn't anticipate the blueline from becoming bad with an addition of a more offensively talented defenseman for next season.
Labels: 2008 Offseason, Devils Analysis