The NJ Devils have been mired in a scoring slump and as a result they have gone 3-6-1 in their last 10 games. They were leading Pittsburgh for the Atlantic lead by 6 points and are now only one point ahead. Scoring has been the issue with seemingly Travis Zajac and Zach Parise being the only Devils who can generate offense, let alone score. If it wasn’t for the stellar play of Martin Brodeur, the Devils would probably be o for 10.
Rob Niedermayer and Dean McAmmond, both excellent and cheap free agent pick-ups, who were playing above their heads for much of the early season, have cooled off and have looked like the 4th line centers they really are. The injuries to top six forwards Danius Zubrus, Patrik Elias, David Clarkson and top defender Paul Martin have finally caught up with the Devils. You can only substitute AHL players for so long and win; even when your head coach (Jacques Lemaire) is a genius.
The Devils are in desperate need of a play making centerman. Did someone shout out Scott Gomez? An impact player on defense would be helpful too. Did some shout out Dion Phaneuf? Ok, I know, the Devils did not have the players to offer Calgary that Toronto was able to. But we can fantasize about Dion can’t we?
Getting us back to the issue at hand, it appears there is traction to rumors that the Devils and Atlanta are looking to make a deal. According to Tom Gulitti of northjersey.com:
“Atlanta Thrashers associate GM Rick Dudley reportedly attended Lowell’s game tonight. Dudley was also in Toronto for the Devils’ game against the Maple Leafs on Tuesday night. Thrashers GM Don Waddell was at Sunday’s Devils’ game against Los Angeles at Prudential Center.”
We also know that the high powered scorer, Ilya Kovalchuk, is on the block as the Thrashers and him seemed destined to part ways as he becomes a UFA this summer. Word is he has been told to expect to be traded in the next few days. Could a package of young players be going to Atlanta for Ilya Kovalchuk and maybe a centerman? An internet rumor suggests that a package of Niclas Bergfors, John Oduya , top AHL prospect Nick Palmieri and a Devils’ first round pick would get Kovalchuk.
While the excitement for Devils’ fans grows at the prospect of finally getting a n NHL top 5 player, one must temper themselves knowing that Lou Lamoriello is the least likely GM to mortgage the future for a potential rental property. Kovalchuk is asking for a huge contract going forward; the kind of long-term contract the Devils’ never do. On the other hand, Martin Brodeur is 36 years old and still at the top of his game. The future may be now.