I have come to the realization that the New Jersey Devils will not be making any drastic free agent signings this off season - the cap situation is such that Lou must focus on resigning Parise and making sure the 9 rfas remain with the team. Lou has hinted at the possibility of a trade (link at bottom), but I see the usual trade suspects, namely, Danius Zubrus (3.4 million cap hit), David Clarkson (2.66 Million), and Brian Rolston (5 million), remaining with the team unless Lou trades them for close to nothing (a late round draft pick). In today's NHL, teams must measure a player's cap hit with their skill to assess their true market value. Rolston, nearing the end of his career, provides some value to the Devils, but I do not believe other teams will take a chance on him. Zubrus is a realistic trade, given that he is a veteran presence and a top 9 forward, but, like Rolston, his cap hit hurts his value. Clarkson could be traded, but I think David is a valuable part of the New Jersey Devils. Many of you are currently saying, "Are you kidding me? Any player who finishes with a -20 rating and only 18 points has no value". I argue against this sentiment for two reasons: a) Clarkson has not received a realistic chance to be a top six forward in his NHL career, given that he has spent most of his playing career on a checking and b) Clarkson's true value lies in his hard hitting, aggressive, enforcing (fighting), and "heart on his sleeve" mentality, a necessary part of an NHL team. Look at the contribution Shawn Thornton made to the Bruins in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Whenever ex-Devils and current Bruins Coach Claude Julien was looking to spark his team, he sent his battering ram (Thornton) out and let him turn the momentum around.
With that out of the way, let's look at the Devils current roster. Using some logic from last year's lineup, here are your current 2011-2012 Devils.
Kovalchuk Zajac Palmieri
Parise Josefson Tedenby (this is a stretch)
Rolston Elias Zubrus
Zharkov Pelley Clarkson
John recently addressed the issue of "what is a puck moving defenseman?". The Devils need an offensive defenseman as much as a puck moving one. A puck moving defenseman can move the puck well into the offensive zone via skating/passing. The Devils have an obvious lack of a "seasoned" (don't go writing Taormina) offensive defenseman who can put the puck in the back of the net or set up teammates for a goal. Their are very few in the league that are available and I do not think the Devils will get one before the beginning of the year unless they make a trade. The Devils also lack an elite shutdown defenseman. Again, there are very few available and the Devils most likely will need to draft one and develop that person through the farm system. I do not see Adam Larsson making the Devils because he would carry a high cap hit as a rookie and I also believe he should be seasoned in North America, which is much more physical than the Swedish Elite League.
I'm not going to comment any further, because anything else I feel I could comment on would be considered unrealistic speculation. Therefore, I will leave it up to you guys. Please comment and vote.
What is the Devils most obvious need?
A puck moving defenseman (42 votes)
A shut down defenseman (19 votes)
An offensive defenseman (see my definition above) (60 votes)
An elite scorer (4 votes)
Depth (In other words, we have a strong top, we just need to fill out the roster with stronger parts ) (42 votes)
A real solution to life after Marty Brodeur - He cannot play forever (44 votes)
211 total votes