The Devils made their first big splash of the offseason today, re-acquiring former forward Jason Arnott from the Nashville Predators for rookie winger Matt Halischuk and a second round pick in the 2011 draft.
Arnott, who served as captain of the Predators, centered the famed “A-Line” with Patrik Elias and Petr Sykora on his wings. That line produced the overtime game-winning goal in Game 6 of the 2000 Stanley Cup finals to clinch the Devils second championship.
With the addition, the Devils acquire a center for their second line. Arnott, who had 19 goals and 27 assists in 63 games last season, hopes to be reunited with Elias in his second stint as a Devil.
“One hundred percent. Absolutely,” he said to Tom Gulliti. “I’ll never forget the fun we had playing on the line together. He’s still an elite player in my mind. It would be fun to play with him again.”
Arnott has one year, $4.5 million dollars remaining on his five-year, $22.5 million dollar contract he signed with the Predators in 2006. The 35-year-old center had a no-trade clause, so he ultimately accepted the trade back to the Devils.
Devils’ general manager Lou Lamoriello hopes that Arnott can bridge the gap and allow prospect Jacob Josefson to gradually gain more responsibility with the team.
“Absolutely,” Lamoriello said to Gulliti. “It gives them tutelage and support. This does a lot for the youth and takes some of the pressure off Travis Zajac. He has a good shot and help us on the power play. It also gives us experience and a player who served as the captain in Nashviille.”
Matt Halishchuk, an oft-injured player, recorded one goal and two assists in 21 career games with the Devils. The Devils drafted Halischuk in the fourth-round of the 2007 draft.
The Devils traded Arnott, Randy McKay and a 2002 first-round pick to Dallas on March 19, 2002, in a deal that brought the Devils Joe Nieuwendyk and captain Jamie Langenbrunner. The team originally obtained Arnott in a deal with the Edmonton Oilers in 1998, trading Bill Guerin and Valeri Zelepukin.
When asked about his role on the team for this season, Arnott told Gulliti he wanted to help the team win and mentor the younger players.
“I just want to help them win again,” Arnott said. “My goal is to help them win and help out with the young guys. That’s what I want to do.”
Lamoriello said he doesn’t expect the trade to hinder the efforts to re-sign free agents Paul Martin and Ilya Kovalchuk. But the team now has 16 players under contract for $11 million dollars, so I’m sure we’ll see the impact of this trade on negotiations with the two free agents in the coming weeks.