I won’t lie. The 2015 trade deadline became a very big disappointment. I was certainly hoping to see a very active New Jersey Devils team, shedding contracts for draft picks that would span the next couple of years but instead, we saw the Devils only do 1 deal on deadline day. I didn’t want any players in return, I wanted picks and holes in the lineup where Lou was forced to bring up guys from Albany. I had suspicions that the only reason the Devils dealt Zidlicky away was because a) Severson was coming back and b) Zidlicky was the only defenseman that Lou would part with that someone was showing interest in. Guys like Harrold, Salvador and Fayne I am guessing didn’t gather any interest whereas guys like Greene, Larsson and Merril were probably guys that Lou wouldn’t even consider moving. Gelinas is still a young player so I don’t think I would have moved him just yet.
We’d been hearing Zidlicky’s name on the rumor list for a while and given his shot and the few things he can do on the power play, I’m not surprised that Lou was able to move him. (I certainly don’t think he’s “another Brian Rafalksi” like I heard 3 or 4 times yesterday). But was the trade a good trade? The Devils get back a conditional 3rd round pick (becomes a 2nd if Detroit makes the Finals, which lets say right now that they aren’t) and the Devils hang on to $1 Million of Zidlicky’s salary. Certainly not a wonderful deal and was hoping they’d roll this deal right into another deal.
Havlat, Ryder, Gomez?
We’d been hearing for weeks that guys like Ryder and Havlat probably had 1 foot out the door but the 3pm deadline came and their names where still on their locker. Once the “all done” signal from Lou came down, anger and frustration where the immediate feelings that came. Lou couldn’t shed some of these guys for future consideration or was it that he just didn’t want to? We’d been hearing for weeks how he believes the Devils aren’t out of it.
To make it worse, the NHL Network ran a story about the time the Devils traded Tom Kurvers to Toronto for a pick that became the pick the Devils used to draft Scott Niedermayer which of course got my hopes up for the possibilities of what the day would bring.
During the conference call that the Devils hold after every trade deadline, Lou he admitted “several other players” could have been moved today if he had chosen to completely give up on this season. “I don’t feel that way,” Lamoriello said of the Devils being out of the playoff race. This of course was my exact fear as to why we didn’t hear New Jersey’s name more often yesterday.
Nine points out of the final Wild Card spot with 4 teams to jump over and Lamoriello doesn’t feel that the Devils are out of the race? Unable to really put consistent winning streaks together all season unless it’s against teams like Buffalo, Carolina and Arizona (all non-playoff teams) and Lamoriello doesn’t feel the Devils are out of it? What’s it going to take? I know you never want to admit that you’re not a good team but that reality has to come at some point and when you look up and down the stats of this team, you quickly realize the Devils (minus the man between the pipes) are not a good team…AT ALL. Only one player has hit the 20 goal mark and only 2 players currently with the Devils have with the 30 point mark (Jagr also being on that list but no longer here)
I’ve been called many names on Facebook and Twitter for that outlook but that is the reality of the situation. Even if the Devils somehow beat all the odds and snuck into the final Wild Card spot, the likelihood of them getting out of the 1st round isn’t very good. The Devils are 4-13-6 against the teams currently in playoff positions today and haven’t played well all year against the Canadiens, Rangers and Islanders, teams that have a legitimate shot at the 1st overall spot in the East.
Say what you will, call me a negative fan or tell me that my outlook is so poor that I’m not really a fan but the reality is that this team is not a playoff team, isn’t built to be a playoff team and right now the future looks pretty bleak. I’m certainly ok with a “rebuilding phase” but it doesn’t feel like NJ is doing that. With the Rangers continuing to be successful and the Islanders looking to be on the upswing and moving to fancy new digs in Brooklyn next season, are the Devils going to be an attractive team to UFA’s? The rebuild needs to start through draft picks and the opportunity to start gaining valuable picks could have been yesterday but from the dialogue I’ve seen, Lou didn’t feel that way and seems to think the UFA market is still the way to go.
Don’t worry, I will certainly be working on my piece on “Why Lou Must Go” once the Devils are mathematically out of the playoffs but for now, we continue on to see how the Devils finish up their season.