The Anaheim Ducks were eliminated from the postseason, which means we can all start speculating about whether winger Bobby Ryan will be traded this summer. The Ducks have devoted a lot of cap space to Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry and there might not be enough left to keep Ryan, who is due to count $5.1 million against the cap for each of the next two seasons (per Cap Geek).
If a 30-goal scorer is on the trade market, you would think Lou Lamoriello and the Devils would be interested. Todd Cordell of Hockey Buzz posed the question, speculated about Anaheim’s asking price and then answered it rather definitively.
His points per game average was down a bit from his standards this season but he still had more even strength goals and points than every player on the Devils, so clearly he’d be a welcome addition.
Now about the cost. What would it be? I’m guessing the Devils would have to include one of Eric Gelinas / Alex Urbom / Jon Merrill as well as another forward prospect (likely Stefan Matteau or Reid Boucher), an NHL center off of their roster and potentially the 9th overall pick (depending on the prospects/center they offer).
A steep price, indeed, but you don’t get young perennial 30 goal scorers without giving up a lot. You have to give to get, they say.
Whether Ryan ends up a Devil or not, Devils GM, Lou Lamoriello, must make some calls and try to get his hands on Ryan. Lamoriello has said you look at every opportunity to improve your roster. Well, an opportunity is sitting right in front of you.
Cordell’s argument is a fair one. The Devils don’t have a lot of players with the offensive game that Ryan possesses and 30-goal scorers are increasingly rare commodities. I don’t disagree that Lamoriello should (and probably will) make a call to Ducks GM Bob Murray if indeed Ryan is available. Even if the Devils retain David Clarkson and Patrik Elias, we saw this season that’s not enough. If Clarkson leaves, Ryan would be a much better offensive replacement and likely at a similar cost value given what Clarkson could get on the open market. Ryan would give the Devils an instant 1-2 punch on the right side with Ilya Kovalchuk and could prove to be an incredibly dangerous winger playing alongside Adam Henrique or perhaps even be a new bestie for the sullen Travis Zajac. The idea, in theory, sounds like a no-brainer.
But you lose me at the cost. As we saw this season, the Devils have minimal depth both at the NHL level and throughout the organization. Sacrificing one of your top defensive prospects along with your top offensive prospect, a current NHL center and potentially the No. 9 overall pick in a talent-rich draft is way too much for a franchise like the Devils to give up. Lamoriello needs to keep adding to the prospects and the talent base, not subtract from it. I understand the idea of adding a talent like a Ryan (a N.J. kid, no less) is absolutely tantalizing. Some of you might say that trading unproven talent for proven skill is always worth it — and a lot of times I would agree with you. But I worry about this team beyond next season or the year after that. There has to be a talent pipeline once more and a trade for Ryan might very well gut it of most of the top-level players.
While I appreciate the idea and think Ryan could be a very helpful addition, I just think it’s a short-sighted move meant to capitalize on what’s left of Martin Brodeur’s career. The Devils need to build for next year and what happens after Marty retired, not one or the other. What do you think?
Devilish Decisions: Adam Henrique
This is a series of posts on the Devils’ pending free agents (restricted and unrestricted). We’ll cover their strengths and weaknesses and end up with a final verdict on whether we think the Devils should re-sign the player. There will also be a poll at the end of each post so you guys can weigh in with your thoughts.
Position: Center Age: 23 2013 statistics: 42 games/11 goals, 5 assists, 16 points/minus-3 rating, 16 PIMs Free-agent status: Restricted 2012-13 salary/cap hit: $525,000/$854,166 (via Cap Geek) Team history: Drafted in third round (82nd overall) in 2008
What he brings: It didn’t take long to see the Adam Henrique package in full display. Henrique took the NHL by storm in his rookie season, coming up just short in the Calder Trophy voting that likely would’ve changed if the voting happened after the postseason. Overall, Henrique is a strong two-way centerman with some ability to play the wing. He’s responsible on the backcheck and unafraid of taking his game into the dirty areas that Pete DeBoer loves. He’s solid in the faceoff dot and has a quick enough shot that it sometimes can cause problems for opposing goaltenders. His biggest attributes are probably the ones you can’t measure. Henrique oozes intangibles on and off the ice. During last season’s Cup run and at times this year, Henrique showed a unique ability to find the puck — and the net — when the Devils needed it most. As DeBoer once said, “pucks just seem to find him.” He’s tough and has the leadership skills to one day take over one of the key positions in the locker room.
Even though the Devils’ playoff chances are finished for 2013, we can still look back at some great moments in New Jersey’s playoff history.
On April 26…
1997- Martin Brodeur records career playoff shutout No. 5, as the Devils beat the Montreal Canadiens 4-0 in game five, claiming their Eastern Conference quarterfinals series 4-1.
2003- Jamie Langenbrunner scores the game-winning goal at 2:09 of the first overtime, lifting the Devils to a 3-2 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning in game two of their Eastern Conference semifinals series.
2006- Langenbrunner and Patrik Elias each record a goal and an assist, and Brodeur pitches another playoff shutout in New Jersey’s 3-0 win over the New York Rangers in game three of their Eastern Conference quarterfinal series at Madison Square Garden.
2012- Adam Henrique scores at 3:09 of the second overtime to lift the Devils to a 3-2 win over the Florida Panthers in game seven of New Jersey’s Eastern Conference quarterfinal series in Sunrise, Fla.
Who: Pittsburgh Penguins at New Jersey Devils When: 7:30 p.m. ET; Pregame show at 7 p.m. ET Where: Prudential Center, Newark, NJ Media:TV – MSG-Plus, NBC Sports Network (Channel listings); Radio – Bloomberg (1130 AM) Twitter:@Pat_Pickens
Stats & Notes (via Devils PR)
New Jersey will close out the home portion of its 2012-13 schedule tonight. The Devils are 18-8-3 in their previous 29 home finales. New Jersey is 6-0-1 in its last seven home-closers (last loss, April 4, 2004 vs. Boston, 3-1).
With their win Tuesday night vs. Montreal, the Devils posted consecutive home victories for the first time since winning three straight March 7-13.
Tuesday vs. Montreal, New Jersey improved to 14-1-4 when scoring first this season. The Devils are 4-17-6 on the year when allowing the first goal.
On Tuesday, New Jersey scored twice on the power play for the fourth time this season and the first time since March 21 at Carolina.
Johan Hedberg will make the start in goal tonight, his first since March 19 vs. the New York Rangers.
Patrik Elias scored his team-leading (tie, David Clarkson) 14th goal of the season Tuesday. It was his fifth on the power play which also ties him with Clarkson for team lead.
Also Tuesday, Jacob Josefson scored his first goal since March 29, 2012 vs. Tampa Bay.
Steve Sullivan recorded 1g-1a-2pts Tuesday for this first multiple-point game as a Devil since February 15, 1997 at Montreal.
It’s no secret that Adam Henrique has had a bit of a rough ride this season. After nearly winning the Calder Trophy as a rookie last year, Henrique has struggled to find his groove in his sophomore campaign. Pete DeBoer noticed and decided to give Henrique a night off with the Devils freshly eliminated from the playoff race.
“I think he needs to take a step back for a night and just watch,” Devils coach Pete DeBoer said. “His confidence isn’t where it needs to be. So, that’s the solution I’ve come up with.”
Henrique admitted he has been struggling with his confidence.
“I guess a little bit,” he said. “Any time you go through a tough stretch, eventually it weighs on you. You start thinking about it more. You start maybe gripping the stick a little bit more in certain areas. I still feel like I was getting opportunities at times. I just wasn’t putting them in, obviously.”
After Zach Parise left in free agency, the Devils were counting on strong offensive seasons from guys like Henrique and Travis Zajac. In hindsight, that seems fairly foolish. Red-hot rookies normally struggle in their sophomore seasons when teams have a full year of tape on them and a player like Henrique has to find another level in just his second year in the league. The night off is a good idea, I think, although I wouldn’t bench him for the rest of the season. I think it’s important for him to go into the offseason with some legitimate game experience because, like it or not, he’s going to be a huge part of the Devils’ growth next year, as will Zajac. I don’t think this season says much about Henrique’s development other than he took a typical step back and I think Zajac will be better after having a full season and offseason to adjust to not having his buddy around. The good news for New Jersey is that Henrique’s sub-par season will help the Devils in contract talks this summer when the center will be a restricted free agent. The Devils have a lot of key FAs this summer (Elias, Clarkson, Zubrus, Loktionov) Can you imagine what Henrique would’ve cost if he had duplicated his rookie year in a shortened season? Yeesh. So there is a brightside — kinda. Almost. OK, not really, but it’s something to grab onto.
Did the Devils play an A-plus game? No. I’d argue they played a couple better overall games during the 10-game winless streak. But the important thing is the streak is over and the Devils are back in the win column thanks to a few superlative efforts. It likely won’t get the Devils back in the playoff chase, but a couple wins over the last 10 days would be important for their confidence heading into the offseason. Some thoughts…
It’s over: Everyone can breathe a big sign of relief. The winless streak is finally over and it didn’t even take Ilya Kovalchuk returning to finally stop it. Of course, like I said above, this wasn’t a perfect game. They struggled to put pucks on net in the first and had difficulty finishing in the second before Ryan Carter snapped one of Ilya Bryzgalov’s shoulder. But the important thing was the Devils kept working in two very important areas: the neutral zone and below the Flyers’ goal line. The Devils did a good job in long stretches of stopping the Flyers at the blue line and both of the Devils even-strength goals came as a result of their work in the neutral zone. As for the forecheck, it was strong almost all night long. The Devils generated a ton of chances off their pressure below the goal line and it eventually wore down Philly’s defense. While the Devils aren’t talented enough to out-skill teams, they are dedicated and strong enough to out-work them. It’s a long shot, but wins like this are the kind of victories that send a team to length winning streaks. The Devils worked their way past an inferior opponent to a streak-busting victory and were rewarded after several games in which they played well but didn’t win.
There’s going to be a multitude of reactions to tonight’s loss. Many will cite “puck luck” or the lack thereof. Others will claim a screwjob from the refs in the third period. Some will say Pete DeBoer isn’t doing his job and needs to go, if only to shake up the team. I’ll give you the first one. I may even listen to you on the second one, too. But this loss, like most of the last nine have not been the fault of one, Pete DeBoer. This loss, like this skid, is a combination of factors, but the blame resides largely on the ice. Some thoughts…
Car, meet wall: We talked about it in our pregame thread, the idea of a team struggling to score running into a very good goalie in Craig Anderson. We were concerned that if Anderson was on his game, it might not matter what the Devils did — and after 60 minutes it was pretty clear that Anderson was going to win tonight no matter what the Devils did. Although he got a little help from the iron maidens, he did plenty of work on his own. At times, Anderson used excellent positioning to give the Devils almost nowhere to shoot. The rest of the time he flung his legs or his glove or his blocker (or the butt end of his stick) into the Devils’ way (and faces). Flat out — Anderson was a damn beast tonight. He might have missed too much time with a sprained ankle to still be considered for the Vezina, but he put on the type of late-season performance tonight that usually rockets a goalie’s name to the top of the list. You know what tonight was? It was the Coyote vs. the Roadrunner. The Coyote painted the train tunnel on the rock, thinking it would fool the Roadrunner, who of course (through the miracle of dated animation) ran right through that tunnel. When the Coyote tried to follow, he either found himself flattened by a train or up against the rock. Craig Anderson was both the train and the rock tonight, sitting back and attacking and basically steamrolling a Devils team that basically gave everything it had and came up with nothing.
The last time the Devils were in the midst of a lengthy losing streak, Pat Pickens and I got together and debated whether the Devils were in real trouble. Pat was a little more optimistic than me, although we both saw a chance for redemption. Then Ilya Kovalchuk got hurt and the Devils went off the rails. With eight games left, Pat and I faced a simple questions: Will the Devils make the playoffs? What follows is a quick answer to that question followed by a debate over why it happened, how to fix it and whether Pete DeBoer should be part of the solution or on the chopping block.
Who: New Jersey Devils at Buffalo Sabres When: 7:30 p.m. ET; Pregame show at 7:00 p.m. ET Where: First Niagara Center, Buffalo, N.Y. Media:TV – NBC Sports Network (Channel listings); Radio - WFAN (660 AM or 101.9 FM) Twitter:@Pat_Pickens
Stats & Notes (via Devils PR)
New Jersey is looking to end a season-high (tie, 0-5-1, February 23-March 5) six game losing streak (0-3-3) tonight.
Each of the first two meetings between the Devils and Sabres this season have gone to the shootout, with the home team winning both times. New Jersey is 0-5 in the shootout on the road this year.
The Devils will close-out their ninth of ten sets of back-to-back games tonight. New Jersey is now 2-5-2 in first games and 3-4-1 in second games when playing on consecutive dates.
The Devils have out shot their opponent in 17 of the past 19 games.
Adam Henrique has scored a goal in each game vs. Buffalo this season. He has 2g-5a-7pts in seven games vs. the Sabres in his career.
Martin Brodeur(16 saves) took the loss last night and is 2-3-3 with a 2.09 goals-against average and .900 save-percentage since returning to the lineup on March 21 at Carolina.
“A Spark”: Four players who did not play Saturday will take the lineup on Sunday night. Peter DeBoer told the press corps earlier, “We need to change things up, we need a spark.”
Jacob Josefson’s been nursing an upper-body injury and hasn’t played since Feb. 24. He’s minus-10 in 16 games and has only registered one point. Tom Kostopoulos, who was shaken up Monday against the Isles, returns after missing the last two games. He’s netted one goal in 13 games in New Jersey.
Obviously, the Devils are looking for offense, and that is what precipitated the moves. But these moves seem a little desperate.
Miller Time: Ryan Miller’s been among the reasons why Buffalo has moved within six points of the eighth-playoff spot. The 32-year-old netminder has stopped 54 of his last 57 shots he’s faced in two Buffalo wins. The Sabres rank ninth in the East with 102 goals, but they’ve been without leading-scorer Thomas Vanek and just traded their fourth-leading scorer Jason Pominville to Minnesota. Miller will have to keep playing strong for Buffalo to stay within striking distance of a playoff spot.
Score First: We said it last night, but New Jersey is 12-1-4 when it scores the first goal. There is no way to overstate how important the first goal is, especially for a team that has had trouble potting goals. If the Devils score first, they can simplify their game, relax and play less tense than they did last night at home. Perhaps the road will suit New Jersey nicely.
If you can play better in a loss, I’d like to see it. OK, maybe if you scored some goals, but I’m not sure how much more the Devils could’ve done tonight. They dominated puck possession, neutralized the Bruins’ offense and put tons of pucks on net — all to come up with nothing. Even worse, with the way things are unfolding around the East, they’ve fallen out of the playoff picture for now. Not a good night, to say the least. Some thoughts…
Everything but the kitchen sink: The Devils did it all tonight. They threw pucks at the net, they deked the Bruins out of their jocks (Andy Greene says “Hi” Shawn Thornton) and they had Tuukka Rask running all around his crease. Yet, at the end of the day, it was a zero on the scoreboard. While I’ve spent countless posts here lamenting the Devils’ lack of a finisher, never was it more apparent than tonight. Say the Devils didn’t get “puck luck” and I’ll say you’re being naive. Tell me the Devils should’ve scored four times tonight and I’ll respond, “But they didn’t.” None of this is to say the Devils played poorly in the offensive end; it was quite the opposite. The Devils did so many things well tonight, reducing the Bruins (arguably the second-best team in the East) to nothing more than partners in an optional skate. But the one thing they didn’t do outweighs all the positive because this time of the year isn’t about “building.” Just like coffee, April is for closers, which is one thing the Devils have been woefully lacking since January 19. There’s no relying on Ilya Kovalchuk’s return. It’s not coming “anytime soon,” according to Pete DeBoer. That means “future Hall of Famer” Patrick Elias, “budding power forward” David Clarkson and promising young centers Travis Zajac and Adam Henrique need to start putting pucks into the net. Devils fans ask if this team can make a run like last season but tonight was 60 minutes worth of reasons why they might not even get the chance.
Perfect opportunity: The worst part of tonight’s loss was they wasted a wonderful performance by Marty Brodeur. No, he wasn’t tested a lot — the Bruins’ 26 shots felt more like 16 — but he was spectacular when he needed to be and solid when he didn’t. The Devils wasted a performance they’re not likely to get more than once or twice every few weeks. Brodeur’s sliding skate save in the final minutes of the third period somehow kept the puck out of the net, much like the right post did moments later. But that’s the thing about vintage Marty, when he’s on his game, so are the metal pipes surrounding him. The pipes seem to be more friend than foe when Brodeur is playing at a high level, giving Marty three extra appendages like some freakish hockey version of Doc Ock. Unfortunately, the only thing Marty gets for his stellar evening is a boost to his goals against average and save percentage, all while the one stat the Devils didn’t need continue to add up. The losses keep coming, whether Brodeur is on his game or off. That should be a terrifying thought for the Devils and their fans.
Looking up: The Devils are frustrated. You can see it by the repeating image of heads jerking back, eyes agape at yet another blown chance. When the Devils aren’t staring blankly from their bench, they’re pointing their gazes upwards, almost begging some higher power to reward their hard work. Except when you build a team that’s counting on fourth-line wingers to play third-line minutes and asking a second-year player to go from ROTY candidate to All-Star, all while hoping that an out-of-nowhere 30-goal season somehow repeats itself — well, you get the 2013 Devils. They score four goals when everything seems to be clicking, until the Lightning score in the final seconds and it all goes to shit. DeBoer spent the first weeks of the season talking about how overtime losses weren’t ideal but were good enough. They needed all the points they could gather, he said. He was partly right. Can you imagine where the Devils would be right now if not for that roaring start? Injuries are part of the problem, but so is not adding any legitimate secondary scoring either last summer or during the first few weeks of the season. The Devils will continue to hit the post and the crossbar. They’ll continue to flub shots and watch the puck hit the outside of the net. It’s not because they’re not getting scoring chances. It’s because the players on the roster aren’t good enough to finish those chances. This isn’t necessarily an issue with coaching or system, although those have both been issues at separate points this season. This is an issue with the flawed construction of a roster that left the team with too many shortcomings to overcome injuries or regressions from the few players talented enough to help replace Zach Parise’s scoring and offensive presence. So the Devils will likely keep looking up at the ceiling, perhaps even in the locker room on baggie day, which will come a lot earlier than last year’s.
Crazy 8 (plus 3): Don’t look now, but the Flyers are two points behind the Devils, who are in ninth with 39 points after tonight’s loss and the Islanders’ (40 points) overtime loss. The team that beat the Isles, the Capitals (yes, the Capitals we all counted out weeks ago) have 38 points and are sitting in third place The Jets, who also have 38 points, are in 10th based on tiebreakers and the Rangers, meanwhile, are in 8th with 39 points and at least one game in hand on most of their playoff competitors. If you’re starting to feel tight around the collar, it’s a feeling you share with the Devils. Things are getting tight in the bottom third of the Eastern Conference playoff chase and the Devils have more in common with teams careening out of the picture than they do with those moving on up. The good news for New Jersey? Of the Devils’ remaining 11 games, two are against teams currently out of the playoff picture (Panthers, Sabres) and three come against teams they’re directly competing with (Rangers 2x, Flyers). The bad news? The Flyers and Rangers might be hitting their stride and the quickest way to fall out of the playoff chase is to lose those oh-so-special “four-point games.” That’s not even mentioning the games remaining against the Bruins, Senators, Maple Leafs, Canadiens and Penguins. The point being the Devils neutralized the team with the second-most points in the East tonight, yet still fell in the standings. What happens when they lay an egg?
Notes: I’m not quite sure how Bryce Salvador got back out on the ice tonight. He could barely tough his leg to the ice after that hip check in the first few minutes, yet was back on the bench before the 10-minute mark for the first and took a shift minutes later. He is way more banged up than the Devils are letting on. … Andrei Loktionov was shot out of a cannon tonight, but that he was (arguably) the Devils’ top center tonight is one of the problems, not the solution. I’m a huge Loktionov fan, but he should be playing third- or (maybe) second-line minutes — not carrying the top line that’s already missing its best player. … The Devils’ response to the Bruins’ goal was one of the better responses they’ve had to going down 1-0 this season, which is saying something because, you know, they’ve given up the first goal alot this season. … Speaking of which, guys like Jaromir Jagr have all the (puck) luck, right? … The David Krejci line was pretty much the only one that put consistent pressure on the Devils tonight. They had some shifts and I was actually surprised they didn’t score. … Remember that “jerking head motion after a missed goal” thing I talked about? David Clarkson is the poster boy. I’m surprised he hasn’t missed time with whiplash. … How desperate is DeBoer for an answer? He reunited the CBGB line for a key shift late in the third period. The fourth line. I enjoy watching those guys play, but should they be the ones you go to for an answer? … The Devils’ frustration came to a head with about 4 minutes left in the third when the Devils were looking for penalties on three successive shifts. In fact, they showed Steve Bernier on the bench a minute-plus later still complaining to a teammate about the call he didn’t get.