Thursday, July 31, 2008


Pile On!

2 Man Advantage has a new post - huzzah! - and it's Joe Betchel getting angry over something from a Rangers blog. As it's the offseason, it's generally time to look at what could be happening next season. At Outside the Garden, Michael Ramos had this little preview of the Rangers' Atlantic Division foes. Needless to say, Ramos doesn't think highly, or much at all, of the glorious New Jersey Devils Hockey Club. Normally, I wouldn't be linking to Rangers-based previews; but I'll make an exception. Go ahead and read it. I'll wait by listening to this:

I got to find that CD somewhere. Anyway, where was I? Oh, yes. Ramos' preview. Joe has plenty to rant about; but I'd like to pile on from a different direction. First off, in what universe are the Islanders a better team now than New Jersey? The team is in another rebuilding mode whereas New Jersey remains as a consistently strong team. The last time the Devils didn't finish with 90 points (and less than 55% winning percentage, for that matter) was in 1995-1996 (Proof: HockeyDB) - 12 seasons ago. The only way for the Devils to reach the depths of lower half of the conference is for Martin Brodeur to get injured for much of the season, the core skaters of the team to play absolutely terrible and/or get injured, and Brent Sutter deciding to coach all the time with a blindfold.

Second, it makes sense that Ramos brings up the Greztky quote from the early-to-mid 1980s and some other non-hockey related stories that happened years ago. He is a Rangers fan. Living in the past is what they do. It's their thing.

Third, and I'm being serious here, but if the Devils are really falling behind in the league and the Rangers are so much better off as Ramos postulates in the "NEW NHL" (it's been 3 season already, it ain't new anymore, Mr. Ramos); then I'd like to know where he's coming from. Otherwise, I assume it's from that one village that just so happens to be missing it's idiot. Again, let's look at the team's records. The last time the Rangers finished ahead of the Devils was in 1995-1996. Here are the Rangers' records at HockeyDB - the comparison is clear. Funny how that a team that's supposedly on the way down, with their terrible signings, their coaching changes, and their system is in "shambles," still finishes ahead of the "NEW NHL"-ready Rangers. Will you consider that the Rangers beat the Devils 7 times this past season and they still cannot finish ahead of the Devils? I think you should because that's hilarious.

Keep telling yourself that it makes sense, Mr. Ramos. We'll remind you should history and current trends repeat.

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Monday, July 28, 2008



On this edition of The IPB Hour (Not Actually An Hour), Pookie and Schnookie discuss the logjam of (the poor prospects!) and consider what lines would Brent Sutter start with. They ultimately conclude it may be pointless as the lines will undoubtedly change within the first period and then there's this deer. I don't recall whether they tried to trade Brian Gionta for the deer.

As a nice, if not old, related post - new-ish Devils blog Section 209 actually has a detailed write up of what the starting lineup will look like. Frank Pyzik's reasoning should be read. I do disagree with some of the decisions. While a Zubrus-Holik-Rupp line would be interesting (and big!), Zubrus is too skilled to be playing on the fourth line. Ultimately, I think we'll see him on the second line - with Langenbrunner dropping back to the third line and Clarkson on the fourth. Still, good call on putting Gionta on the off-wing. I wouldn't like to see Colin White and Bryce Salvador on the same pairing as they could have trouble with speedy forwards; but I do agree that the third pairing is a toss-up at this point. Still, good work.

A new-er Devils blog, Hell on Ice, Richard Adragna has a short eulogy for Sergei Brylin. No, he's not dead, but his NHL career essentially is when he signed with SKA St. Petersburg (link goes to Gulitti interview). Brylin was utility forward who proved useful - either as a checker or a spot-filler when injuries struck - and was a part of the team's three Stanley Cups. Yes, he faded in this past season; but he will be remembered for his times prior. While a Brylin-like player may not make the difference between winning or losing the Cup; you need guys like Sarge to get there. Was he crucial or important enough to retire his number? No. But he will be remembered fondly in the hearts of Devils fans.

Speaking of Gulitti, he reports that Jamie Langenbrunner will remain captain. Repeat after me, Devils fans: You don't need to be the best player on the team to be the leader. Yes, it would be a bad season for Langenbrunner if he, say, puts up just barely above 30 points. But it wouldn't be an indictment of his role as captain. Now, if he can't motivate the team and step up in the locker room, that would be a valid strike against his captaincy. I'm just getting that out there now before we hear the complaints in, say, January.

From Puck Daddy, we learn that Jay Bouwmeester did, in fact, sign with the Florida Panthers according to the Miami Herald. So scratch him off the list of future Devils unless that list title ends with "I wish they could magically get." (Aside: On my list of future Devils that I wish they could magically get? Two words: Jack Johnson. But it'll never happen.) Also from Puck Daddy, the Islanders will have a sweet third jersey this coming season according to NY Rivalry. Hopefully, New Jersey can finally stop having ridiculously difficult games against them this coming season.

Lastly, also thanks to Puck Daddy, check out this interview Wyshynski had with NHL 09 producer David Littman if you're into things like games, hockey, both, and fun in general. In the NCAA games, I really dig the "Be a Legend" future as it allows me to create a gigantic (7'0") power running back by the name of Bolt van der Huge and work to become a Scarlet Knight superstar. What Littman is aiming for definitely is appealing and I'd love to give it a shot. Is Blast Hardcheese a good hockey name?

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Sunday, July 27, 2008


Fighting and Wins in 2007-2008

For some reason, late last night, I got to thinking how the Devils generally do when there's a fight during a game. Yeah, I don't know it popped in there, but it did. So this morning, I decided to look at all the games last season and see how many fights there were and whether or not there was any connection between it and winning.

To do this, I went to and check out the basic recaps for each game. Each recap has a list of penalties, so finding fighting majors and the score (of course) was fairly simple. Just as important as the number of fights there were, when they time they took place. I don't like fighting and I really wouldn't miss it if it were eliminated from professional hockey. That said, there is a train of thought that a fight would "wake a team up" so to speak. It does get the home fans all up in an uproar, I can't deny that. Whether or not it changes the momentum of a game is another question. What you, I, and your favorite auntie cheer or not cheer for is immaterial. The goal of a hockey game is to win, and that will be the focus of this then.

So in addition to counting the number of fights and seeing whether the Devils won, I subjectively decided whether that fight made a difference in the game. I would like to emphasize the word difference here. If the lead changes or a team ties it up after a fight in the same period, I would recognize the fight could have had an affect on the team's performance. Were the Devils losing, a fight takes place, and the Devils remain losing - I don't think the fight changed much of the game's course. I limited it to being within the same period only because an intermission has additional variables come into play when it comes to a team's performance - a leader making a speech, the coach giving the team what's for, and so forth. A fight in the first period, I think, isn't likely to be a catalyst or part of one when the Devils score twice in the third period to win the game. Also, it's not to say, "Well, David Clarkson threw down and the Devils scored 2 goals afterwards; the fight was totally responsible." I'm saying it could have. It's a subjective argument, but I felt it could provide an interesting insight. I understand it's flawed because a game could change in momentum but not yield any goals; however, there's no clearer way of showing that team "turned it around" or "turned it up" other than lighting the lamp.

I also split the difference between all fights and "in-game" fights. I'm defining a fight to be in-game is if it took place within the normal course of a game. Some fights/scrums/etc. take place at the very end of the game when it's all pretty much decided. Fists are thrown out of frustration more than anything else and it ultimately has no affect on the game. So I decided to only really count those in any analysis. Fights at the beginning of the game or in the middle of it would change any momentum on the one place that matters - the scoreboard. At the end of the game, not so much.

Fourthly, I'm only looking at this past season. Before you comment or e-mail me that "How dare I ignore Cam Janssen," I want to point out that the Devils committed 16 more major penalties this past season than in 2006-2007. While not all major penalties are fighting majors, the Devils fought enough times this past season such that it is mathematically impossible for it to be fewer than 2 seasons ago - regardless of "Cammer The Hammer." So much for cries that the team last season lost its "toughness."

Lastly, I'm only counting wins here. Shootout and overtime losses yield points, yes, but they aren't wins. And wins are what's important here. Anyway, there's no need for fancy charts or graphs because the numbers are straight forward:
  • Number of Devils fights: 45
  • Number of games with a Devil fighting "in-game": 32 (34 including the end-game fights)
  • Number of Devils fights "in-game": 42
  • Number of fights that changed the course of the score: 13
  • Devils record when they don't fight: 26-22 (Winning Percentage: 54.16667%)
  • Devils record when they fight "in-game": 19-13 (Winning Percentage: 59.375%)
  • Devils record when they fight but not "in-game": 1-1 (Winning Percentage: 50%)
  • Devils record when the fight changed the course of the score: 6-7 (Winning Percentage: 46.1538%)
Well, my original thought going into this was that fighting really wouldn't have a correlation. And I'm proven somewhat wrong. The Devils actually had better winning percentage when someone in red does throw down their gloves this past season. Not that they did bad without fighting - but the percentages are pretty clear about that. It's also not as if there's a small percentage of fighting; a good 93.3% of these fights are during the course of the game where things can change and approximately 39% of all Devils fights have this kind of fight.

That said, it's not that drastic of a change in winning percentage for fans to demand a fight every game. Of these 42 "in-game" fights, only 13 of them led to a significant change in the game. The Devils ended up slightly under the 50% winning percentage mark, as only 6 of those changes ultimately led to Devils wins. Therefore, most of the Devils fights do not led to a change in the game and when they do, it's almost a coin flip as to whether it works out for New Jersey.

Going into this analysis, I was under the impression that A) the Devils didn't fight all that much and B) the fights don't lead to too many wins - too many of them take place after the game's over, the Devils would likely continue sleepwalking through games regardless of the fight, etc. Thought A was quickly proven wrong, a point further justified when you consider New Jersey was in the middle of the league for major penalties. Thought B was refuted by the Devils happenstance to win 19 games out of the 32 where there were fights during the game. Only 2 fights were at the end of games; and there were even a couple that had multiple fights (most per game this season was 3, achieved three times).

However, it doesn't seem that the Devils fighting lead to the Devils playing better and more productive hockey from this past season. They are mostly just fights that happen in the game. This makes sense, otherwise, we'd see teams all over the league bend over backwards to keep enforcers, tough guys, and goons along for long contracts. In short, I don't think the Devils - or its fans - should be looking for fights to play better hockey - it likely will not happen. Considering most of the fights are by one David Clarkson, a young talented winger, I still think it's best if he's on the ice on shifts that would take place when he's not in the box for 5 minutes.

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Thursday, July 24, 2008


Oduya May Be Due for a Wheelbarrow Next Year; Corrente VS. Many

Specifically a wheelbarrow of cash. Let me back up first.

Over at the FanHouse, Jes Golbez gives Johnny Oduya some respect (also known as "props," "dap," "due," and possibly "love") as one of the best bargain players in the entire league. Golbez' reasoning is pretty sound, with a reference to an interesting analysis with the plus-minus stat that I haven't seen until now. Even Devils fans who paid attention during the second half of the season would be surprised at a +27 for the man. That all said, and to support Golbez' argument, Oduya's averaged the third most minutes on the team with 19:01/game, with 3:24/game on special teams. He's been used in all situations and has mostly featured on the top pairing with Paul Martin since the All Star Game. Most impressively, he scored this goal. All this in his second NHL season. Oduya has definitely took it to the proverbial next level.

It'll be interesting next June when Oduya becomes an unrestricted free agent. If Mike Commodore can command $3.75 million/year, as long as Oduya doesn't regress, we're looking at possibly at least $4 million/year. A third season in the NHL, improved performance going into this third season, and a contract year? All the signs point to an even better season for Oduya - and definitely a big raise (hopefully from Lou).

Elsewhere: Brent Sutter did a good, long interview with Tom Gulitti, which is available at Fire & Ice. If you heard the FAN 960 show, this is a nice supplement. Holik's role is better explained, we learn that Larry Robinson stepped down of his own volition, he likes Matthew Corrente, and he doesn't prohibit fights in practice. Why did Gulitti ask that? Well, it's because the confident Fedor Federov and Harry Young went toe to toe with each other at the developmental camp today.

Speaking of developmental camp, Brandon Burlon and Anssi Salmela are still hurt, Vladamir Zharkov showed up, and Matthew Corrente is thinking like a little engine that could, according to Gulitti. He's grown up, physically and emotionally, based on the interview. And he can play some defense, as I understand it. If I were him (and/or his fans), I wouldn't get my hopes up for making the regular roster right out of camp. That Lou and Sutter have openly praised Corrente definitely helps him out. It's always a good thing when the Legendary General Manager and head coach like what you do on the ice. However, his biggest obstacle is based on the sheer number of defenders available. Corrente is going to have to do more than prove in training camp that he's better than the other rookie defensemen (e.g. Salmela, Mark Fraser, Tyler Eckford) to get a spot. He's got to show he can bring more to the table than either Andy Greene, Vitaly Vishnevski, or Sheldon Brookbank. Vishnevski has been in the league for a while and Greene and Brookbank were regulars (well, as regular as you can be on a team with 9 rotating defensemen) last season. That will not be easy. That all said, it's a question of "when" and not "if" for Corrente. I just wouldn't write his name down on the roster just yet. Now if (or when) someone gets traded and that opens up a spot on defense, I fully expect Corrente to be among the leaders in taking that role.

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Tuesday, July 22, 2008


Robinson Down! Albelin Up! Fedor Confident! Sutter Speaks!

Fischer types! You read! And possibly decide!

First, from Tom Gulitti's Fire & Ice, it's brief but important with respect to the bench. Larry Robinson is stepping back to return to his role as a special assignments coach and Tommy Albelin will step up into being an assistant coach. From the comments, Gulitti elucidates on what Robinson did the last time he was a special assignments coach. With a lot of young players, this additional focus could help. It will be interesting to see how Albelin's role will affect the defense - even though that probably won't be fully realized until well into the coming season.

The most intriguing thing about this move is that it may expand Sutter's hand in coaching. Correct me if I'm wrong, but Albelin has not been an assistant coach at this level. It wouldn't be a the worst idea for Sutter to be more active with the defenders - assuming he isn't already - and to help Albelin out. Then again, it's entirely possible that Albelin may not need the help, or if he does, he could possibly get it from Robinson. One thing's for sure, there probably won't be a coach in the press box on a regular basis next season. Unless that's where they want Jacques Laperriere.

At this point, I'm now just grasping at straws here with respect to the coaching. Perhaps anything could happen.

Second, as reported by Gulitti and Rich Chere of the Star Ledger, Fedor Fedorov is confident on making the team. The quotes in Chere's article are interesting, to say the least. It's good to see someone with confidence; it can definitely make a difference between a good camp and a bad camp. But he seriously was signed to a one-way contract? I guess the organization is confident in Fedorov. After all, he's making $500k if he ends up in New Jersey or Massachusetts. Good luck to Mike Rupp, Rod Pelley (who's in camp without a contract), and Petr Vrana! You all now have more competition for a regular spot.

Second and half, Gulitti finds out why some of the prospects aren't available - specifically Mattias Tedenby and Mike Hoeffel.

Third, I found out from HF Boards that Sutter did a long interview with "Boomer" Dean Molberg on Calgary's FAN 960. You can listen to the whole thing on the FAN 960 website right here. He is quite specific that he wanted Brian Rolston and Bobby Holik's role on the team (it rhymes with "north mine").

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Monday, July 21, 2008


Developmental Camp or Where's So and So?

So and So is likely with What's Her Face, the Cheerleader, and the Ugly One.

But you probably don't really care about that. What you do care about are the New Jersey Devils. And this week the Devils are in action. In that the Devils prospects are already getting a look at by the organization. As usual, Tom Gulitti is on top of things with a who's who at camp. (Aside: Seriously, Fedor Federov is now in the organization? I guess after Jean-Luc Grand Pierre and Ian Moran, I guess this signing won't do too much damage in it's stupidity/bizarreness.)

Goaltender (1): Jeff Frazee (Devils' 2nd choice, 38th overall in 2005).

Defensemen (9): Brandon Burlon (2nd choice, 52nd overall in 2008); Matthew Corrente (1st choice, 30th overall in 2006); Matt Delahey (5th choice, 112th overall in 2008); Mark Fayne (5th choice, 155th overall in 2005); Mark Fraser (3rd choice, 84th overall in 2005); Corbin McPherson (3rd choice, 87th overall in 2007); Tyler Miller (5th choice, 107th overall in 2006); Anssi Salmela (free agent signed by Devils); Harry Young (8th choice, 202nd overall in 2008).

Left wing (3): Jean-Sebastien Berube (9th choice, 208th overall in 2008); Brad Snetsinger (free agent signed by Devils); Vili Sopanen (5th choice, 177 overall in 2007).

Center (7): Tyler Burton (free agent signed by Lowell); Patrice Cormier (3rd choice, 54th overall in 2008); Fedor Fedorov (free agent signed by Devils); Adam Henrique (4th choice, 82nd overall in 2008); Cory Nagy (6th choice, 142nd overall in 2008); Michael Swift (free agent signed by Devils); David Wohlberg (7th choice, 172nd overall in 2008).

Right wing (3): Matt Halishcuk (4th choice, 117th overall in 2007); Nick Palmieri (2nd choice, 79th overall in 2007); Nathan Perkovich (6th choice, 250th overall in 2004).

Gulitti is already looking into why Tyler Eckford isn't here. That's a good question. Other good questions to ask would be where is Petr Vrana, Nicklas Bergfors, Vladamir Zharkov, and Mattias Tedenby? It's not as if the camp is draft-year-restricted, nor is it restricted to mostly fringe prospects/free agent prospects. Matthew Corrente and Anssi Salmela are here and they are being discussed as possible NHL players already. No, really, it's in Colin Stephenson's column about the development camp in today's Star Ledger. We've heard about Corrente possibly in the mix, but good on Stephenson to highlight why Salmela may have a better chance. Unlike Corrente, Eckford, and Mark Fraser, Salmela has professional experience in Finland and was even named to play for his country in the World Championships. At worst, he could be like Jari Viuhkola, who didn't make the team despite his past experience and went back to Finland instead of languishing in the minors. But given that Salmela is young and wants to fight to get onto the team, I expect him to stick around for a little longer.

Also, Stephenson answers the question as to why Eckford isn't there, he's actually in school this summer. In general, these camps aren't just a way make a statement to the team, but to show the team that you're committed to be there. However, I don't think it'll hurt Eckford as he's advancing his education - he's not holding out for a contract or doing whatever.

Stephenson's column also contains even further possible evidence that Lou is looking to upgrade the defense. I say possible because the quote is exactly:

"We've added two players, in Bobby Holik and Brian Rolston, and certainly we're looking for a defenseman or two to come in and play -- or push somebody -- and then we'll see what happens from there."

Well that could mean a number of things. Maybe one (or two!) of Corrente, Eckford, Fraser, or Salmela earns a spot in camp and that would be the "upgrade." Maybe they'll trade someone for a defenseman. Maybe they'll sign someone with the little cap space they have. He's being vague here as to not play his hand. The only clear statement defense-wise is that Lou's not done yet. Even though he does note the team was pretty good last season. Too bad the camp is closed to the public, but at the same time, I can't imagine there being enough interest to justify opening it up. It's not like, say, the Giants playing at Albany University which draws about a couple hundred watchers. Regardless, best of luck to all the prospects at the developmental camp.

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Sunday, July 20, 2008


The Defense As it Stands

So far this offseason, the Devils' signings have taken three forms (all posts by Gulitti):

1. New forwards - Brian Rolston and Bobby Holik.
2. Depth signings for Lowell - Jay Leach, Jon DiSalvatore, Chad Wiseman, and the return of Scott Clemmensen to the Devils organization.
3. Re-signing Jay Pandolfo, Petr Vrana, and Bryce Salvador.

Notice that the team didn't sign any new defensemen. There's a common thought process I've noticed from Devils fans that the defense could use an upgrade for next season - an example of this was mentioned by Tom Gulitti after the initial free agency extravaganza. It's definitely a reasonable desire. After all, good is never as good as great; and even the best teams in the league in any sport can always find areas to upgrade. When Gulitti talked with Lou after the Salvador signing, the GM we trust says:

Lamoriello said the decision to re-sign Salvador doesn't mean he won't look to upgrade the defense through free agency or via trade. “This does not mean anything we have is status quo," he said. "This does not in any way say that. This is a foundation as far as getting better.”

If you take that to mean that Salvador is part of the Devils upgrading their defense, then I'm inclined to agree. Among the Devils blueliners, Salvador does bring experience - which is invaluable for a position like defenseman. He's also a solid, stay-at-home defenseman, of which the Devils do not have too many players of that type. The only other one I'd confidently say fits that style is Colin White. Most of the other defensemen are more all-around (note: that is not the same as two-way), decent defensemen. A full year of Salvador should prove to be a benefit.

Curiously, Lou said that the retainment of Salvador is not the only move he'll make, giving further fire to the thought that the Devils need an upgrade on defense. To a point, this makes sense. The Devils blueline - with 8 signed and 2 prospects who will be looked at closely in training camp - there doesn't seem to be a true puck-moving NHL-caliber defenseman in the group. Paul Martin and Johnny Oduya - two players who have really stepped up their game last season - showed flashes of that they could do it, but not enough to do so on a regular basis. Given that the Devils' transitional game relied a lot on guys like Scott Niedermayer and Brian Rafalski to make that first pass or to lead the breakout, this has been a flaw in the Devils' offense.

Therefore, I think it's important to note that if the Devils trade for a defensemen - at this point, I think they will make a trade because they don't have a lot of cap space to sign someone significant right now - it should be for someone who specializes in passing, puck movement, puck control, puck poise, and other traits associated with that sort of thing. I would not expect your traditional "#1" defenseman to lead the blueline. While it would be great for the defense, those players don't just grow on trees. Such talent commands a high price in a trade, and I don't think it'd be worth giving up, say, Zach Parise for a stud defensemen like Jay Bouwmeester. If only because it would further reduce an already low goal-producing team just to improve the defense. Also, with the signing of Salvador, I don't think the Devils need another stay-at-home defenseman.

That all said, it's worth pointing out that the Devils' defense last year wasn't all that bad. On paper, it was littered with questions. "Can Martin really lead the defense?" "Will Johnny Oduya stop falling down and be a top 4 defenseman?" "Who in the hell are Mike Mottau, Andy Greene, and Sheldon Brookbank and why are they getting so many minutes?" "How will Karel Rachunek and Vitaly Vishnevski fit into the team?" (Answer to the last one: Not particularly well.) Questions aside, they did a lot better as a unit than one would think. While the goals against total was so low thanks to the Best Goalie in the World, Martin Brodeur, the defense did help him out. Yes, the opposition was more accurate than New Jersey, but the defense did enough to limit them to an average of 27.5 shots per game. That's good for eighth lowest in the league, and an average of .2 fewer shots per game would have put the team in the top 5 in that category. As excellent as Marty is (as well as John Madden and Pandolfo), that stat is primarily a result of the play of the blueline - and it's a pretty impressive one, I think.

The coaching staff did a great job handling 8 (and eventually 9) defensemen and having the unit play much better than it would look on paper. Interestingly enough, I think the defense will be better in a way should most of the same players stay together. Just like with forwards, defensemen build chemistry with each other. With improved communication, knowing just what your partner will do in various situation, and knowing what to do while your partner is along the boards or in front of the net or elsewhere, the defense as a whole will be much better. As the season went on, the individual players started performing with more confidence and providing better performances. The best example of this is Johnny Oduya, who went from depth defenseman with an unfortunate knack of falling down, to playing 20+ solid minutes with Paul Martin. The role of chemistry is invaluable among defensemen, just as it is with forwards. Coming into this season, Mottau, Brookbank, and Greene would all have had a full season of hockey. They could be even better this season now that they know what to expect. The same can go for Martin - who has grown into the #1 role for New Jersey - and Oduya - who has grown into playing well on the top pairing. The chemistry among these players will only be further solidified, short of a bizarre pairing changes at a constant rate.

So should the Devils continue to make upgrades, they shouldn't blow up the whole unit. Otherwise, you'll see just as the defense was in October - players all over the place positionally, leaving Marty out to dry on a regular basis. That wasn't good. Overall, they did rather well enough last season and the addition of one player who can move the puck fairly well on a regular basis would likely be the last piece of the proverbial puzzle. So, yes, I agree the unit could use an upgrade; but I don't think they were as bad as one may think by looking a lineup with Mike Mottau on the second pairing, averaging 20:03 a night. They did all right.

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Monday, July 14, 2008



Here are something things going about that I'd like to touch on, before we take a look at the defense.

First, Jared Ramsden has a review of the Devils draft from this past year at Hockey's Future. As a rule of thumb, you really can't judge drafts until at least 3 years. Which is partially why Petr Vrana and Nicklas Bergfors are in such crucial situations for their careers. Nevertheless, Ramsden is pretty pleased with Mattias Tedenby being selected in the first round. The rest of them he's currently projecting to be mid-pairing defensemen, checking forwards, and depth players. Also, as indicated by the introduction, he's surprised that no goaltenders were drafted. Well, I don't know if it's good to put the goaltending future in the hands of a young prospect unless he's the right guy. Besides, Brodeur is likely to play into 40 anyway, assuming he stays healthy and in shape.

Second, Slap Shot at the NY Times is reporting that Sergei Brylin is looking to sign with SKA St. Petersburg. Brylin is looking for a three to four year deal and SKA St. Petersburg wants to give it to him. As much as I appreciate what Brylin has done for the team, he started regressing this season. If he honestly was looking for a similar length with New Jersey, I'm glad the organization and Brylin mutally agreed to part ways. If/When the deal gets signed, best of luck to Sarge in the future. If you want to learn about the team, the Wikipedia entry for SKA St. Peterburg is a good place to start. You'll learn that ex-Devil Ray Giroux played for them recently! Hey, Andrei Zyuzin is also now a part of them, apparently. Oh, the things you learn when you search international hockey.

Third, from HF Boards, the Tennessean has a big report about potential Nashville Predators owner William Del Biaggio wanting to seize and move the franchise. Take some time to delve into the matter and among the many linked articles. (As an aside, this is some excellent journalism by the Tennessean.) This is fascinating and at the same time shocking. Yes, I'm not a Predators fan, but I sympathize with their fans all the same. It's a terrible feeling not knowing whether your favorite team will be around next season. Don't forget that it nearly happened to New Jersey, as they danger of moving to Nashville (of all places) after their first Stanley Cup in 1995. Thankfully, the Devils remain and hopefully the Predators will too. A good sign is that the local owners will look to replace Del Biaggio's $9.8 million stake.

Fourth, Ted Nolan has been fired by the New York Islanders according to Newsday. Greg Wyshynski at Puck Daddy thinks this is an excellent move for the struggling franchise. I'm not so sure. I can understand the general manager and the coach not seeing eye to eye is definitely not good for the team. I can fathom that a poor season after making the playoffs is definitely cause for concern. These, in conjunction, can be considered good reasons to fire someone. However, it puts a lot of pressure on the Islanders organization to find the right head coach to replace Nolan. Basically, the team is looking to build their franchise as Wyshynski rightfully points out, they need a coach who shares management's vision. Greg suggests Mr. John Tortorella. Not bad, but I wonder if he's the best option. Torts will definitely get people in line and he has experience turning around a team. But the Lightning are in a similar position (to a point) and Tortorella got dumped because the players seemingly stopped listening to him. Should Garth Snow hire Tortorella, will history repeat itself - what will they do to prevent the same situation again?

As a Devils fan, I wouldn't mind Mike Milbury getting back behind that bench. If only for the hilarity. (I'm sorry for bringing up his name, Islanders readers.)

Fifth, Scott Clemmensen is in the Devils organization again according to Gulitti of Fire & Ice. 2 Man Advantage is pumped about this development. I am officially indifferent. Also, Vrana is a Devil, Matt Halischuk can go to Lowell, and Rod Pelley is still not yet signed. I'm pretty sure Pelley was qualified, so I think it should be a matter of time.

Lastly, IPB has discovered Brian Gionta in their today's edition of the creatively-written Project Bicycle Spoke. They list a number of trade proposals they'd make with Gionta. Also, they hint with subtlety wanting Devils games to start at 7:30 PM next season.

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Friday, July 11, 2008


Let's Look at the New Guy: Holik

It's now time to take a look at the return of Bobby Holik! The center of the famous CRASH LINE, where he centered Randy McKay and Mike Peluso as a fearsome threesome that, well, crashed the other team to great success in 1995. He developed into a shutdown checking center and rightly moved up from the fourth line. In fact, he even showed some production, picking up at least 60 points from the 1996-97 season through 1998-99. While his numbers dropped from then, he was still an important part of the team on the third line (plus, he was crucial in the 2000-2001 Stanley Cup run).

Unfortunately, Holik left a very, very sour taste in all Devils' fans mouths when he signed with Our Hated Rivals for a $9.5 million/year contract. It was shocking, anger-inducing, and laughably ridiculous all at the same time. However, since then Holik's career has been on a down turn. He was bought out by the Rangers after two years. Don Waddel felt Holik would be a solid addition to the Atlanta Thrashers. A ton of money and three years later, he was not retained. Needless to say, the numbers for Holik's Atlanta tenure don't look good. In fact, the only thing to note from his stats is that he played all 82 games in the last two seasons, he was excellent on faceoffs (58.4% faceoff win percentage last year), he's still big, and he grew some hair.

What I could find about Holik online isn't complimentary at all. Mortimer Peacock at The Blueland Chronicle stated that Bobby Holik did (intercourse)-all for the team in his end of the season awards. The Falconer (ASIDE: The Falconer is awesome. This a must read post.) at Do The Thrashers Have Long Talons? is more descriptive of Holik's three stop with the Thrashers in this ruthlessly honest essay about Atlanta's current woes. Holik didn't provide leadership, he wasn't good on penalty kills, he wasn't consistently intense, he was well overpaid, and the only solace you can take is that he wins a lot of faceoffs. Ouch. Pat Lackey at the NHL Fanhouse bluntly states that this wasn't a good signing. Greg Wyshynski at Puck Daddy is a bit more apologetic in stating that he could help out on the third line.

Let's face facts. Holik is not going to be seeing any big minutes unless injuries happen and he needs to fill a role for a game or two. Holik is also not going to be a leader, he's not going to be the proverbial "straw that stirs the drink," and he's not likely going to be a difference maker. His production has declined, he isn't getting any younger at age 37 and will likely not learn some new skills to rejuvenate his career, there's no real need for him on special teams except to win crucial faceoffs, and his best role has always been as a checker. And that's perfectly OK with me. Because I envision Holik not to take any of those big roles. No, I expect him to give John Madden a rest.

Before you write angry notes and/or never read this site again, let me explain. I am very much pro-Madden. He is clearly the top checking forward on this team he's regarded among the best in the league in that role, evidenced by his Selke Trophy Finalist selection. He gets all the tough assignments against the best forwards on the opposing team on a regular basis. He also played more minutes than all the other forwards last season with an average ice time of 19:30. While the Devils have been successful defensively due to the blueline playing better than the sum of their parts (or how they are on paper, depending on which cliche you'd like to use), the unit of Pandolfo-Madden-X has been a big help as well. During his Selke analysis, you'll find Mirle's methodology rates Pandolfo and Madden highly in this regard. What does this have to do with Holik? Plenty.

At this point in his career and given the Devils' current status, Holik can fit the bill as a second defensive center. Even though he's not close to being the player he was for New Jersey, Holik is still regarded as a third line center. On the Devils, he won't even have to do that. Among the various changes among the line up, there wasn't a consistent fourth line (or a first and second line, but I digress). Rod Pelley is a defensive forward, but he's also a rookie - looking like, well, a rookie in some games. I don't think Pelley's bad, but he certainly didn't make enough a case to keep him as a regular. Holik can provide the experience in that role that Pelley can't just yet. Given that a big part of defense involves positioning, anticipation, and hockey sense, experience is invaluable.

So instead of Pelley, let's modify Wyshynski's thought, and consider Holik as the Devils' fourth line center. With that move, he can provide the Devils the base for a viable second checking line. In Holik you have his defensive skills and his proficiency on faceoffs helping keeping possession. As far as wingers go, David Clarkson didn't look out of place on defense when he played with Pandolfo and Madden. Clarkson can be a physical force, aggressive - even agitating - against opposition forwards, and can be an interesting fit in this possible checking line. For the other winger, this is more open. If the Devils want it to be a physical defensive line, Mike Rupp can bring the pain along with Holik (I know he's 37, but he's still 6'4" and 230 lbs. and had 147 hits for Atlanta last year) and Clarkson. If they want to favor youth on this checking line, they could try Pelley at wing to see how it goes or give the supposedly Sergei-Brylin-like Petr Vrana a shot. Pelley has a good upside as a checker, but I'm not sure how Vrana can handle it - so I'd favor Pelley going into camp. So as long as defense is the goal, it should work.

Just by considering Holik as a defensive center on the fourth line the Devils have accomplished two things. First, they don't need to rely completely on Pandolfo-Madden-X to be the one-stop shop for line matching. Pandolfo and Madden won't have to have to take so many shifts to help the Devils not concede goals. This will leave them more rested for their shifts, which always good. Second, should the unit play well enough, oppositions are going to have hard time setting up their lines. In the past, they could move their best forwards around so they are on the ice when Madden is getting tired or isn't there. They could hit the Devils with their secondary (or tertiary!) scoring lines when the Devils won't have their third line out there. With a secondary checking line, the opposition can't just wait out the Madden line and hope for weaker opposition.

So Holik was a poor leader for Atlanta, so he wasn't good at scoring for the team, and so he wasn't particularly into all the games he played. So what? The fourth line was never much of a scoring line in the history of this franchise, so I don't think anyone reasonable will is expecting 40-50 points from Holik. No one will ask Holik to become a leader for the team, with established veterans already filling those needs (e.g. Madden, Elias, Langenbrunner, White, etc.). Holik won't have to play big minutes on a fourth line and he won't be needed on a penalty killing unit already well filled with forwards who have been doing a good job at it. If he's dogging it, Sutter will almost definitely not put up with it. These criticisms may even not be applicable for the role I'm thinking Holik should be in for New Jersey. He just needs to win faceoffs, play good positioning hockey for 8-12 minutes, frustrate the opposition's forwards a bit, and that in of itself will provide an extra dimension of defense for the team. That's always good for the team.

The worst-case-scenario out of all this is that: Holik totally sucks. He comes into camp out of shape, he doesn't have his heart in the season, and he gets dumped (bought out, down to Lowell, etc.). A loss of $2.5 million isn't good, but it is only for this season. After which, the Devils will probably look long term as to what they want to do with the fourth line. That all said, with the Holik signing, the fourth line doesn't have to be a low-minute line just there to provide some hits. It can provide some good use and I'd like to think the signing of Holik shows that the Devils organization may be thinking the same way.

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Tuesday, July 08, 2008


Let's Look at the New Guy: Rolston

I've read this little post from Gulitti about the possibility Patrik Elias may be shifting from center back to his standard spot at left wing now that Brian Rolston was signed a few days back. Since then, I've been mulling the possible lines we could see for the Devils. Mind you, the Devils have 13 forwards and I think one of them - particularly the one from Rochester, New York - may be traded. At first glance, this makes sense. Elias has played the majority of his career at left wing, only playing center for significant portions in 2002 and last season. Rolston has been a center for most of his career, but he's been listed as a right wing for last season.

But don't take just my word for it - let's see what the Wild fandom (at least, bloggers who support the Wild) has to say about Rolston. They have seen him a lot more than I have, at least. Wild Puck Banter says he plays in all situations and is a good all-around player. 18,568 Reasons Why seemingly concurs, stating that he's got a great slap shot for the power play, he plays a two-way game while providing the offense, and he's good on the penalty kill. On a more cautious note, Wild View from Section 216 says that Rolston tended to disappear for stretches during the season. Michael Russo of Russo Rants of the Minneapolis StarTribune noted similar praises for his scoring, his slap shot, his penalty killing, and being a "good dude" when his rights were traded. If you want a more objective take, Sportsnet's profile of Brian Rolston concurs with all of this - including his lack of playmaking ability and confidence issues.

This all said, I think it's clear that Rolston is going to be a feature forward for the Devils. Sutter would be crazy not to give Rolston minutes on the top line or on the power play (especially the power play). I can see the penalty killing forwards still remaining as Jay Pandolfo, John Madden, Patrik Elias, and Jamie Langenbrunner; but I'd expect Rolston to work his way in there. Basically I expect and welcome Rolston as a big minute forward in all positions. We know his strengths, we know he can play wing or center, but here's why I don't think Rolston should move to center just yet.

Brian Rolston has not been good at faceoffs recently - and that's a main reason he was listed at right wing for the Wild, winning only 67 out of 165. I think Rolston is definitely worthy of being on the first line; but a 40.6% winning percentage last season doesn't inspire confidence. Elias was even better than that with a 45.6% winning percentage last season. Yes, Elias took a lot more faceoffs; but Rolston has struggled whenever he had to take a draw in all three seasons with Minnesota, winning 46.7% and 45.4% in 2006 and 2007, respectively. I doubt that Rolston will get any better at faceoffs soon. Should he center the first line, don't expect the Devils to keep the puck off the draw. Not that Elias is much better; but he's at least proven as being better than Rolston based on the last season. It explains why the Wild moved him to the side.

And he's been great while he was there - picking up 96 goals in the last three seasons there, while remaining as a solid, all-around forward. What's more is that given his weaknesses - struggling in the middle of the season, not being a playmaker - playing on the wing would be best to offset those. The center generally is a focal point of the offense and say what you will about Elias, but he's got the vision and the passing (most of the time) necessary to make plays consistently at center. Rolston won't have to worry about that.

And if we learned anything about Brent Sutter last season, if a few players are not doing so well on the ice, he will shuffle the lines to get players going. So if Rolston "disappears," so will Rolston's situation in attempts to "disappear" less. Being able to play all three forward positions helps Rolston in this regard, and right wing may be the position mostly in flux. Dainius Zubrus was shuffled around everywhere last season and has looked his best at right wing. Jamie Langenbrunner has had seen better days as a second line right winger (Aside: Please re-unite the J-Line, Sutter!), but he can fill in on some occasions. David Clarkson has been at his physical and tenacious best on the right side. And all three wingers did jump around all four lines last season - the addition of Rolston makes it more interesting and gives the Devils further options. Imagine Rolston with Madden for a bit. Yeah, doesn't that seem exciting - it could even work. It's also further reason to trade Brian Gionta, unless a decision is made to make Rolston play on the second line left wing position (assuming Zach Parise doesn't regress in a horrible fashion). Given how much the Devils are giving Rolston and his past pedigree, I think that would be a waste.

From considering all this, I think it would be best for the Devils to begin with Elias remaining at center and Rolston providing some finish on the right side. We know what Elias can do in the middle and Rolston's past success has came at wing. Given his deficiencies as well, I think that the Devils would be better off now penciling him on the right side of Elias. With Parise on his left, we could see a pretty good first line for the Devils - two finishers and a playmaker who can finish if he could shoot better (and luckier). As always, I could be proven completely wrong - so take all this with some salt.

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Friday, July 04, 2008


Happy Fourth of July, Everyone


Specifically to have a happy Fourth of July! Enjoy the long Independence Day weekend, where ever you may be.



Thursday, July 03, 2008


Who Will Pack Their Bags?

The Devils forwards as signed: Patrik Elias, Zach Parise, Brian Gionta, John Madden, Travis Zajac, Jamie Langenbrunner, Dainius Zubrus, Mike Rupp, and David Clarkson. They have kept Jay Pandolfo and Rod Pelley was qualified. And now Brian Rolston and Bobby Holik have joined the fold. The top prospects (among others) within the Devils organization competing for a spot are Petr Vrana and Nicklas Bergfors (who will only be in as a top 6 forward).

On defense, the Devils have Paul Martin, Johnny Oduya, Colin White, Andy Greene, and Vitaly Vishnevski. They have re-signed Mike Mottau, Sheldon Brookbank, and Bryce Salvador. Karel Rachunek has left for Russia. The top Devils prospects competing for spots on the blueline (among others) are Matthew Corrente and Tyler Eckford.

That's 13 forwards with at least two prospects that could make the jump, and 8 defensemen with at least two prospects who could get a spot. Clearly, someone is leaving New Jersey this summer. The top guys are pretty much untouchable short of an amazing deal. Something like Zach Parise in a package for, say, Dion Phaneuf. No, it almost definitely won't happen but you never know. I never thought Jason Arnott would be traded with Randy McKay for Langenbrunner and Joe Nieuwendyk. Anyway, here's who I think are five Devils who are the most likely to be moved in my standard, quite wordy style. I think this will be much better than discussing the possible signing of Fedor Federov. (Seriously? Fedor Federov? Tell me this has Lowell written on it. Please tell me this is only for Lowell.)

#1. Brian Gionta
WHY HE MAY GO: He didn't look all that great last season despite his no-fear style of play. He was shuffled around the top two lines and failed - like the rest of the team - to really generate some consistent scoring. For $4 million a year and considering what he did to get that fat contract, 22 goals and only 8 on the power play is disappointing especially when the expectation was that he'd be a leader on the offense. I'd almost go as far as to say it's questionable as to whether he can even a level of 35 goals again. His contract ends after this season making the cap hit only in the short term for his eventual new team, and a change of scenery could spark his scoring touch again. Furthermore, it doesn't help that the Devils now have 4 potential right wingers on the top 2 lines not named Gionta. Granted, I emphasize potential but these include: Brian Rolston if Elias remains a center, Dainius Zubrus can play the right, Nicklas Bergfors if he has a good camp, and Jamie Langenbrunner if he remembers how to do that again. His spot is numbered to a degree, really.

WHY HE MAY STAY: Gionta got most of those 48 goals in '05-'06 from in front of the net. He wasn't featured in the slot for most of the last season. If Sutter gives him that opportunity, he could become more productive. Also, and I cannot stress this enough, he's in a contract year. He may "turn it up" based on that alone, and it may benefit the Devils more to reap that extra effort than to let someone else enjoy it.

#2. Travis Zajac
WHY HE MAY GO: Last season was a sophmore slump, a drop off in scoring and in overall play. He found himself on the fourth line by season's end and the concern is whether or not his overall development has taken a big step back. A drop in 8 points isn't so bad on it's face, but instead of showing he can be a second-line center who can make some plays, work well with Zach Parise, and someone who gets in good on-ice positions in general; he regressed in all aspects. Given how much he was shuffled around with seemingly no clear improvement. The Devils may want to cut their losses now and offer a forward spot to another prospect forward.

WHY HE MAY NOT GO: He is just coming off a sophmore slump. This happens to lots of rookies who have decent-to-good first seasons. Other teams figure out who he is and play against him accordingly. It'll be up to Zajac to work hard and improve in various aspects - consistency, skating, shooting, decision-making, etc. - for a strong third season. That said, the Devils drafted the guy, they signed him after two years in North Dakota, and he immediately fit on the top team. While some fans think otherwise, it doesn't make sense for the Devils organization to give up on him after one bad season in his young career. It would send a bad message to all the other prospects and young players on the team (do well or you're gone). It could also come back to haunt NJ if Zajac does turn it around and becomes a pretty good player.

#3. Vitaly Vishnevski
WHY HE MAY GO: Vishnevski's big asset to the club last season was that he's a physical defenseman. He can hit, he can hit hard, and that he works on the third pairing. Now that Brookbank and Mottau are returning and with Andy Greene still there, there's going to be an awful lot of people for two slots. What really hurts Vishnevski is that Bryce Salvador has been re-signed. While he's not a hit machine like Vishnevski, Salvador can be just as physical, only he's much better defensively. While Salvador won't likely get third-pairing minutes, the Devils can afford to rotate Brookbank, Mottau, and Greene on the third-pairing without sacrificing much physical play. Considering that Mottau and Greene got a lot of minutes last season, they will likely be the favorites for those spots. Like Asham on the fourth line, Vishnevski could likely be the odd man out. Even more so if Matthew Corrente and/or Tyler Eckford impresses in September.

WHY HE MAY NOT GO: Vishnevski can easily be the "constant" on the third pairing and if Sutter chooses to, have a real physical defense. If Martin-Oduya is split up, there could be a strong hitter on each pairing. The Devils would literally be tougher to play against on defense. Other than that, I don't know what I can say. Greene and Mottau have proven themselves (to a point) with the time he's got on the ice, and Brookbank has shown to be as good as Vishnevski for much less money. Actually....

#4 and 5. Andy Greene/Mike Mottau (the two are interchangeable in this regard)
WHY HE/THEY MAY GO: They've each played at least 19 minutes last season and didn't look terrible at it. Oh, there's been some nights where you wonder what they're doing on the ice. Don't get me wrong. But they have shown that they can handle it, they just need more experience at it. Furthermore, they are cheap. Mottau is only making $762,000 and Greene is earning a mere $600,000. Should the Devils make a package deal with Gionta, either defenseman can be thrown in to help sweeten the deal while not making it prohibitively expensive for the other team's cap. Greene may be more likely in this scenario as he has the advantage of time on his side - Greene will turn 26 this season, whereas Mottau will become 31 by season's end.

WHY HE/THEY MAY NOT GO: They've earned their spots on the line-up. Greene has averaged 19:30 in the 59 games he played, and Mottau finished the season second on the team in average time on the ice (20:03) with the most games out of all the defensemen (76). While they certainly didn't "wow" anybody, they were steady enough and a second season in this set up could see them as even better defensively. They're more familiar with what they'll have to do, what they'll have to improve, and how they will be coached. Also, should the Devils want to take on more salary in making any deals, they can provide good-enough defending for a low cost this season. Their relative bargains can go either way as a reason to keep them or to move them.

HUGE I CAN BE QUITE DAFT AS A TEAM SIGNING COMMODORE FOR $3.75 MILLION/YEAR EDIT: I completely forgot that Aaron Asham was a UFA and was not re-signed by New Jersey. I swore I looked at the Devils player numbers at NHLSCAP enough, but I completely missed it. Anyway, he's gone and, well, that makes it a little easier on the forward logjam. But there's still too many players on the roster, I still think a trade will happen at some point this offseason. Thanks to anonymous (who is legion and divided by zero and blah blah blah) and arbund972 for catching this in the comments (comment at ILWT and correct me - today!).

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Tuesday, July 01, 2008


The New Old Devils

The Devils retained Bryce Salvador and Jay Pandolfo. They signed prospects Matt Halischuk and Vladmir Zharkov; while keeping David Clarkson and Barry Tallackson. Sergei Brylin's option did not get activated. Tom Gulitti has all this. And considering the two new signings, I wouldn't expect Sarge's return.

The big story is that Tampa Bay did indeed waste a pick trading for Rolston's rights, as I mentioned yesterday. Brian Rolston, originally drafted by New Jersey in 1991 eleventh overall and remained with the team until the 1999-2000 season, is coming home according to TSN to the tune of 4 years and an average (read: cap-hit) $5 million/year. To be honest, I'm not liking the fact that he's going to get this much for that long at age 35; but Gulitti has reported he got seventeen deals. When there's that much competition, you got to be willing to offer a little more and Lou has succeeded.

Contract issues aside, just as I said I like the signing for Tampa Bay yesterday, I quite like this signing for New Jersey. Rolston is a productive player, he's got a great shot (especially his slap shot), and he knows how to play both ways. He can line up at any forward position, but considering the Devils' issues at center last season, I think he'll start there. Though for the power play, he needs to be up at the point. Short of Rolston getting injured or failing dramatically, I think he'll help out the Devils on offense, on special teams, and for the team as a whole in the short term. He wants to be here, he chose New Jersey over 16 other teams, and he's proven himself. Maybe not so much at 39, but let's worry about that in 4 years. For now, it's a solid pick-up. Good job, Lou.

Bizarrely, the Devils have signed another ex-Devil: Bobby Holik for one year and $2.5 million according to Sportsnet. I think that's too much, but it is only for one year. Holik has certainly slid in terms of overall performance since leaving New Jersey. Short of a revival of epic proportions, I think it's safe to say that Bobby Holik would be on the fourth line as long as he comes into camp in good shape and performs decently. Sucks for Rod Pelley and Petr Vrana, but on the brightside, we could see Crash Line Version 2.0 if Mike Rupp and David Clarkson are his linemates. Actually, if Rupp plays like he did in the last 20 games of last season and Clarkson keeps being himself, that wouldn't be such a bad idea. A second checking line would take the heat off of John Madden and the retained Jay Pandolfo. If Holik doesn't work out, the cap hit only hurts in the short term and Pelley, Vrana, or someone else can take that spot in short order. This one was more surprising, but it could work out well. But like I said, I wouldn't expect a whole lot.

Keeping Jay Pandolfo here for $2.5 million/year for 3 years will be enough to keep two of the top checkers in the league together, raising hell against the opponent's top lines for a few more years. According to the TSN article about this, the decision came down between Pandolfo and Brylin. While both won't become Goal Scoring Machines™, Pandolfo's defensive skills keep him valuable. Brylin, not so much. Ultimately, I think it was the right decision. I don't mind the retainment of Bryce Salvador. He's a defensive defenseman with experience who can be pretty physical. The only other defenseman on the team who fits that role is Colin White and having another player like that doesn't hurt on the blueline. Salvador makes sense. However, given his past injuries and that he'll provide a minimal amount of offense, I don't think contract makes as much sense. I'm a bit confused as to how he was able to get $2.9 million/year for 4 years, as Gulitti reported. Then again, I just saw on the TSN website that Mike Commodore is getting a 5 year deal at $3.75 million/year from Columbus. Yes, that Mike Commodore. No, I'm not making that up. Could the market for defensemen be any more overpriced? Back to Salvador, I'll take solace that there's no "No Movement Clause" involved.

Final thoughts so far? First, the Devils probably won't make any more big free agent signings. While they still have some cap space left (I'm guessing around $3-4 million? Correct me if I'm wrong), they aren't going to get Marian Hossa. Second, expect some trades this summer - at least a few people on this team won't be here by October.

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