The New Jersey Devils added defenseman Niclas Havelid yesterday, and it was a good move by virtue of the fact that it improves their defense, and didn't cost much. But Havelid doesn't exactly fill a need.
The Devils are fairly set all around, and could only stand to improve by adding a scoring defenseman.
The defenseman had been rumored to be Scott Niedermayer. Turns out that isn't going to happen.
Alas, Anaheim Ducks general manager Bob Murray intends on hanging on to Scotty for some inexplicable reason. Niedermayer is one of the best defensemen in the NHL, especially when his scoring ability is taken into consideration.
He's a great leader, a great player, and perhaps most importantly, an unrestricted free agent after this season.
By keeping him, the Ducks may be letting him walk away—or retire—for nothing. But Murray seems to be willing to take that risk.
"It's the respect factor," says Murray. "I don't think he should go play somewhere else if this is his last year."
So, out of respect, Murray is going to let an NHL legend rot on a middling team, rather then allow him to play for a contender?
After all, sending him to the Devils, with whom Scotty played for 13 years, would be so utterly disrespectful, right?
Remember when the New York Rangers traded Brian Leetch to Toronto so he could compete in the playoffs? Leetch had never played for another team in his entire career, but the Rangers at least gave the guy a chance. That's respect. Murray's reasoning is ludicrous.
Respect, my ass.
I don't know why Murray is saying that, but it makes no sense. I hope it's all a big bluff so that he can raise his price. With Nieds as an unrestricted free agent this summer, and always a threat to retire, teams won't pony up equal value for him. By threatening to retain Niedermayer, Murray may be hoping teams will be willing to pay more for him.
I'm therefore still holding out hope the Devils do manage to reacquire Niedermayer, although I don't want them to overpay for him. There are other players (like Phoenix's Derek Morris) who fit that role. Maybe if he doesn't retire, the Devils can make a run at him in the offseason.
Until then, Bob Murray can bite me.
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