How to balance the Devils Roster

Andy Marlin

What moves do the Devils need to make to boost their offense and create some room on defense for their best defensive pairings?

At the beginning of the season the New Jersey Devils looked mediocre on paper. I'm usually a glass half-full type of guy, but the loss of Zach Parise, Petr Sykora, and Alexei Ponikarovsky, without any feasible replacements, left me with a half-empty glass. The Devils lost key forwards from a Stanly Cup Final run and the roster seemed to lack scoring depth. So, what do the Devils go out do? They signed Cam Janssen 2.0 Krystofer Barch and Bobby Butler, neither filling the role of "scoring threat". This ultimately left the Devils with too many defenseman and a lack of skillful, scoring forwards.

Finally, in training camp, Stefan Matteau was chosen over Bobby Butler to make the roster out of training camp. This left me with a feeling that the Devils organization is still struggling to fill the scoring depth problem. It appears as though the Devils will be relying on younger players to reach their potential and become an NHL regular. Should this approach fail, the Devils have two other options, trade or sign an unrestricted free agent.

The Devils current line situation is below (Courtesy of Tom Gulitti):

Tedenby - Zajac - Kovalchuk

Zubrus - Elias - Clarkson

Carter - Gionta - Bernier

Barch - Josefson - Matteau

The top two lines are strong, but the third and fourth lines leave a lot to be desired in terms of scoring. Many fans will argue that the third line has great chemistry and had that great playoff run, but that level of scoring may not be sustainable for the CBGB line. I believe the third line of Carter - Gionta - Bernier is good, but not good enough to face other third lines in the NHL.

So, what do the Devils have going for them if they are looking to acquire more scoring depth? Actually, they have quite a bit. The Devils have too many good blueliners (see Kevin's Post) and they also have a lot of cap space. Per Capgeek, the Devils have $12,665,202 in cap space. The point here is that if Lou wants to make a move, he has the resources to do it.

Now, predicting Lou's future moves is near impossible, remember when he traded for that one Russian guy out of nowhere? Anyways, I'll just state a few scenarios I could see occurring.

1. Trade a defenseman on the roster for a second or third line winger to fill a hole in the scoring depth. Obviously it depends which defenseman Lou is able to trade, but I suspect it comes down to Volchenkov or Tallinder.

2. Trade a defenseman and a defensive prospect (Urbom, Gelinas, rights to Merrill) for a second line winger and a pick. Since the Devils will lose their first round pick for the Kovalchuk signing, they could use another pick to help ease the pain of the missing first round pick.

3a. Trade defenseman on the roster for pick(s). If Josefson and Tedenby pan out the way many expect, the Devils can afford to trade a defenseman for pick(s).

3b. This would be the same as 3a except the Devils also sign Sykora and solidify themselves as a threat on offense and a solid team on defense.

I believe the ideal move the Devils could make is to sign Sykora. Sykora contributed 21 goals and 23 assists while complementing Patrik Elias perfectly. Should the Devils sign Sykora, they should also trade Tallinder for a 2013 draft pick. This will allow Adam Larsson to get on the ice. Along with Adam Henrique coming back from injury, these moves would make the Devils a serious Cup contender.

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