Thursday, July 03, 2008
Who Will Pack Their Bags?
#1. Brian Gionta
#2. Travis Zajac
#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!).
I'd have to agree with you about Gionta, while he might make a resurgence next season I honestly can't see him being more than a 30 goal guy again. With so many others floating around (and I'd like to get a look at this Bergfors everyone's been talking about) he seems both expendable and like someone who might get good market value. There are plenty of other teams who might expect to profit from him making a comeback.
Also, if Gionta gets traded for a D-man, which seems likely since Lou seems to want to add to that army, its gona increase the pressure to move VV or Mottau/Greene.
One other thing, I was under the impression that Asham was a UFA and we had (wisely) not resigned him.
As always, love reading the analysis, keep up the good work.
Well, I guess my list is now of 5 guys. Thanks for finding that egregious error!
As far as trading for a d-man; it would depend on the d-man coming back and their cap hit. Given that much of the Devils defense is pretty low-cost (now, that changes next year), the Devils may be too cap-strung to give them up. It'll depend on the offer, as usual.
Heck, maybe they would take Gio, Zubrus, and Greene for Bieksa and Cory Schneider????
Well OKAY! I wasn't gonna, but then you invited it!
We currently have Sheldon Brookbank, not Wade, as mentioned in the second paragraph. Also, Andy Greene is 25, though he will be 26 shortly into the next season, so that's not that big a deal.
Then, you've been correct'd.
Also, you missed one more, Mottau is actually 30 now. But I've corrected it all to make it correct. Thank you for finding them.
It really shouldn't be David Clarkson or Mike Rupp. Rupp showed promise as a power forward NOT fighter, and Clarkson is game but a bit small.