The New Jersey Devils began their offseason shuffling by announcing today that they sent prospect center David McIntyre to the Minnesota Wild for defenseman Maxim Noreau.
In what should be the first of many moves that will fill a longer offseason than any Devils fan would like, Noreau is likely slotted to help upgrade the backline of New Jersey. The team has admitted they have to look to upgrade their backline with better puck moving defenseman, and Maxim Noreau should provide them with a potential option to help.
Noreau, age 24, is a defenseman who plays well on the offensive side of the game but is somewhat undersized, which makes at least leaves questions on the defensive side of things.
He is set to become a restricted free agent on July 1, meaning the Devils must at least make him a qualifying offer to keep him in the fold. He has been an AHL All-Star the last two seasons, so there definitely is talent there. At worst, it seems like a low-cost option to provide potential depth at the NHL level.
If I had to guess, I'd say his upside is to be a third pairing defenseman who possibly could see power play time. Or he could end just as depth in the minor leagues for Albany, adding a veteran presence to prospects like Alexander Urbom, Eric Gelinas or Brandon Burlon. He also gives the Devils another right handed defenseman, which the Devils always seem to be in a shortage of.
This trade could possibly give a hint as to what the Devils plan to do with restricted free agents like Anssi Salmela or Matthew Corrente, but most likely, GM Lou Lamoriello and/or his scouts are trying to give their team another potential option to utilize on the backline, and hope they may have found a diamond in the rough.
Guys like Matt Taormina and Mark Fayne will most likely be returning from last season, but neither is a sure thing by any stretch, even though they had good stretches at different points of the season, so adding another option seems like a good idea.
One might also think this could be an indication the team is likely to draft a forward, but I don't think this trade has any real impact on next week's draft. The Devils will be picking a player to benefit them for the long haul, not just next season. All in all, seemingly a minor trade, but when everything plays out beginning in October, it could be the kind of under the radar type of move that has benefited Lamoriello often in the past.
Expect the Devils to announce they are filing for arbitration with Zach Parise in the next 48 hours or so, which will take Parise off the free agent market and in the fold for 2011-12. The real negotiations will begin as the arbitration hearing comes closer, and I still am confident the Devils will have a long-term deal in place with Parise before any hearing ever takes place.
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