Should He Stay or Should He Go…

It’s been almost two weeks since the New Jersey Devils 2009-10 season came to a crashing halt at the hands of the Philadelphia Flyers. Three days after their elimination, coach Jacques Lemaire announced his retirement forcing the team to search for it’s sixth head coach in six seasons since the lockout ended. Three consecutive first round exits, haven’t made it past the second round since winning the 2003 Stanley Cup.

After having time to digest all of this I’ve come up with some suggestions on how to improve the team and hopefully help them (at least) make it out of the opening round of the playoffs. All salaries I used are courtesy of nhlnumbers.com.

Coach: Hire Mike Keenan. The ex-Ranger coach, (more recently ex-Calgary) would seem like an odd choice at first glance, but he knows how to win and he could work well together with another crafty mind like GM Lou Lamoriello. His first task will be convincing Brodeur to play less games, oh and his career total of 672 wins is good for 4th all-time.

Trade: Jamie Langenbrunner, Mark Fraser (and/or) Andy Greene to Toronto for Tomas Kaberle. Perhaps Lamoriello can convince Leafs GM Brian Burke that he can use a Langenbrunner to lead his young team in 2010-11 as he led Burke’s Team USA to a silver medal. Kaberle has one year left on his current deal at $4.25 mil, so to make it fair salary-wise Lamoriello may have to surrender both Greene and Fraser; Langenbrunner is due $2.8 mil and will also be going into the last year of his contract. Perhaps Kaberle will waive his no-trade clause to skate with fellow Czech Patrik Elias.

Trade: Before the draft call your old trading partner Don Waddell from Atlanta and offer him RFA David Clarkson ($875,000) for soon-to-be UFA Colby Armstrong ($2.4 mil). Maybe he still wasn’t 100% from the leg injury, but Clarkson was invisible versus the Flyers; Armstrong will be a player that plays hard every shift and in front of the opposing goalie he will be a pain in the @$$, something Clarkson has failed to do in each of the last two postseasons. See if Waddell has any interest or room for Jay Pandolfo also, who could help stabilize a young squad.

Free Agency: Let Paul Martin, Mike Mottau, Rob Niedermayer, Rod Pelley and Martin Skoula walk away. Changes have to be made and most of these players were very serviceable, the ultimate results just weren’t there.

Do whatever you have to do to re-sign Ilya Kovalchuk. Quick name another first overall pick that has played for the Devils. Stumped, well as far as I know there is only one other– Bobby Carpenter — and he wasn’t nearly as dynamic as Kovalchuk is. Hopefully Ilya sticks around, but who am I kidding, there’s no way he’ll stay in New Jersey right?

Sign Free Agents : Tomas Plekanec, Marek Svatos and either Andy Sutton or Anton Volchenkov. Plekanec is the center that the Devils have been lacking since Scott Gomez took the money and ran to Manhattan, leaving Travis Zajac as the team’s only legitimate scoring center. Svatos is a talented, scrappy, underachieving winger from Colorado who could fit in on a solid third/fourth line. Either Sutton or Volchenkov won’t come cheap, but they are both worth the money that will be spent on them. They both block shots well, get in shooting lanes and aren’t afraid to get into scrums to protect the front of their crease — a huge lacking element in NJ the last three playoff failures. Both players also have the same downside too — they are both injury prone, so teams may end up being hesitant to throw major cash around.

There’s a saying ‘scared money makes no money’ so I say the Devils need to revamp the current edition to make it look something like this:

Line A: Ilya Kovalchuk-Tomas Plekanec-Patrik Elias
Line B: Zach Parise-Travis Zajac-Dainius Zubrus
Line C: Brian Rolston-Colby Armstrong-Marek Svatos
Line D: Pierre-Luc Leblond-Tim Sestito/Dean McAmmond-Vladimir Zharkov

D-pair 1: Tomas Kaberle-Anton Volchenkov/Andy Sutton
D-pair 2: Matthew Corrente-Bryce Salvador
D-pair 3: Colin White-Anssi Salmela/Tyler Eckford

Goalies: Martin Brodeur, Yann Danis

I know I’ve made some crazy suggestions here, and I have no doubt that I’ll probably be 0.00% right, but hopefully some changes are made so I’m not sitting home watching less-superior teams battle for a chance to get steamrolled next season. Let me know how insane this all sounded, Thanx.

Dan

Devils-Senators Postgame Quotes [11.25.09]

Here are some of the postgame quotes after Wednesday’s 3-1 Devils win over the Senators:

Niclas Bergfors:

There was an odd bounce on your goal, was that an easy one to score?

“Yeah, I was a little bit surprised to get it there. I just took the shot and it went in.”

Are you happy with how the team bounced back after going winless in the last three?

“I think it was good; it was a tight game. We never really had them (put away), but with hard work, I think we kept them from getting really good (scoring) chances. It was a good team effort.”

Ottawa didn’t have any power plays tonight, was discipline a big part of the game tonight?

“Yeah, they have good players, top players, so they are really dangerous when they get the man-advantage. We were good.”

You grew up in Sweden, what was it like to play against Daniel Alfredsson and was/is he some one you looked up to?

“Yeah, a little bit. He was winning a lot with the Swedish national team, so of course I definitely have respect for him. I’ve never met him though, only played against him.”

Martin Brodeur:

Talk about some saves you made tonight…

“They had a couple of good chances; we had a couple of breakdowns and they got some high tips, but I was able to be in good position. The puck was hitting me (tonight).”

Do you guys have to have a good stretch with all of these home games coming up?

“We have to, I think. It’s a huge advantage to play at home, and we have to take it somehow. It’s not an easy thing to do, but an easy thing to say — I think we have to play a certain way in our own building. We’re playing to get all these points and that’s going to translate into home-ice advantage hopefully, in the playoffs, if we do get there. It’s important to play at home, and the way Jacques likes to coach at home and stuff.”

Did you get a souvenir from tonight’s game for the newest member of your family?

“Yeah I got the puck. Hopefully he’ll be happy later on.”

Brian Elliott:

Bad luck on the first goal that caromed off of the boards on a dump-in?

It’s just a case of bad luck, I guess. I don’t know if they planned that or what, but it was a good play (for them) I guess.”

Do you think they have a home-ice advantage there, a home-glass advantage?

“Well if they know it has a tendency to do that, if you’re going to dump it in, why not try it and see what happens. Something that we’ll learn from and when we come back here (on Dec. 18) we’ll know about for sure.”

Chris Campoli:
Your thoughts on the game tonight…

“I thought it was a hard-fought game; they played typical, Devils-style hockey where they like to sit back and have you come at them. We kind of played into their hands a bit that way. We didn’t create a whole lot (offensively) and anytime you do that, and make a couple of mistakes that they capitalize on, they are a tough team to beat.”

Jacques Lemaire:

Why are you laughing?

“I’m laughing because I’m late, I was in a meeting.”

What did you like about the win tonight?

“The third period – I think we were better with the puck. We started to move the puck, better passes which was a lot better than what we were doing in the first and second periods. I think in the 1st and 2nd (periods) we turned the puck over a lot and every pass the guys received on the backhand, they couldn’t handle the puck. Most of them on the forehand couldn’t handle the puck. But we got a win (smiles).”

You said when the injured players get back you will move Patrik (Elias) back to wing, might you change your mind after tonight’s game?

“I’ll see at that time. He’s playing much better now (than when he first came back), he’s getting better as a player, as a center, making better plays. He’s in control right now, which is good. Now, when the other guys, the centers, come back, I’ll see. Because I know a guy like Patrik that can play center and wing, and has a lot of talent – I know that when that talent is put on the wing with a decent center (alongside him) he could be really effective. He doesn’t have to do all that work that a center-man will do: work with the defense down low, you know, prepare all the plays offensively.”

Based on the way Marty played tonight, will he start Friday afternoon in Boston?

“We haven’t talked about this yet. We mentioned it last week, but tomorrow we’ll solve that problem.”

Would you agree that he saved the game in the third period tonight?

“Definitely a couple of times; he played really well.”

Which one of the kids from Lowell impressed you the most?

(Matthew) Corrente played really well for his first game on defense, he was poised. He did certain plays that a five-year veteran defenseman does. I was impressed, he played good minutes too (8:54). Besides him, defenseman (Tyler) Eckford, different position for him playing forward tonight, but he was fine, nothing special, but we wanted him for the power play (2:44 of 7:57 played on PP). Timmy Sestito, he’s very steady, he works hard, and I can use him on the wing. To me it’s a lot easier for a center to go on the wing — left or right doesn’t matter — he’s been a pleasant surprise in a way. He’s doing the job, solid defensively. We don’t have a lot of offense but one thing at a time.”

How was Dean McAmmond tonight?

“He’s getting better – I liked him tonight. He made one play that I didn’t like around our net there, a turnover, but you can see he raised his game right after, and that he was upset. He’s a guy that I have confidence (in) when I put him out on the ice. Matt Halischuk is pretty much the same thing: he’s young, he’s learning and a lot of it is a matter of confidence when you put the kids on (the ice).”

How do you think Niclas Bergfors played tonight?

“I think he played good. He still had long shifts and I’ve been telling him about this and I’ve told him; it’s the 20th game and I think twice a game so that’s like 40 times, but he’s going to get it. He needs to take shorter shifts.”