The New Jersey Devils have a lot of work to do.
After finishing at the bottom of the Atlantic Division, it appeared that there was nowhere to go but up for the three-time Stanley Cup champions.
The departures of Ilya Kovalchuck and David Clarkson have left the Devils short-handed, and, with money to blow, New Jersey has turned it's attention towards free agent Damian Brunner.
The Devils are reportedly "doing a lot of background work" on the Swiss free agent, according to Nicola Berger of the Swiss newspaper Neue Luzerner Zeitung.
Brunner broke into the NHL this past season with the Detroit Red Wings. Despite having fairly pedestrian regular season numbers (12 G, 14 A), Brunner shined during the postseason where he put up nine points in 14 games.
With most big name free agents already settled in to new homes, Brunner appears to be the best on the market. However, that does not make him the best for the Devils.
When looking through the Devils' roster, there are generally two types of players: those that are still too young and those that have gotten too old. Adam Henrique is still too young to carry the load of a franchise, while players such as Patrick Elias, Dainius Zubrus, Ryan Clowe, and the corpse of Jaromir Jagr have all seen better days.
Brunner is used to playing with a different caliber of player. Brunner would be trading in players like Henrik Zetterburg, Pavel Datsyuk and Johan Franzen for linemates that are nowhere near the quality of the Red Wing veterans.
For someone that was already inconsistent throughout the season, his performance in the playoffs has been stellar. He was also seen as a defensive liability, as he was -6 for the regular season.
Brunner's inconsistencies and flaws would not be masked by a fairly mediocre Devil team that was outscored by 17 goals last season. While the additions of Cory Schneider and Michael Ryder will certainly help out New Jersey, this season should still be seen as a bridge season as they wait to rebuild with next year's crop of stud free agents.
The Devils should also be looking in-house. With Matthias Tedenby and Stefan Matteau waiting to earn NHL ice time, it could be beneficial to give the youngsters some playing time rather than paying for someone from the outside.
That said, if they could acquire Brunner for the right price, it wouldn't be a bad move. He has flashes of brilliance that could help virtually any NHL team. However, panicking and offering Brunner an overpriced contract after losing your superstar could prove costly.
The Devils should approach cautiously, while looking forward towards rebuilding themselves into one of the NHL's top franchises.
What do you think? Would Brunner be a good fit with the Devils? Leave a comment below or tweet at @R_tolmich for discussion!
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!