VIEW FROM THE TOP: New Jersey Devils
As the self-appointed spokesmen/woman of the Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks, we are using the idea of "To the victors go the spoils" quite seriously. What we will do between now and the night the Stanley Cup banner is raised in the United Center is point out the shortcomings of all the teams that won't have four crisp new banners in their rafters. We continue this series with the New Jersey Devils.
It's been quite an offseason for the New Jersey Devils. First, the team swung a deal for Vancouver goaltender Corey Schneider during the NHL draft, as part of some league-wide conspiracy to make Roberto Luongo insane. 12 days later, forward Ilya Kovalchuk "retired", effectively walking away from his massive contract while leaving the Devils with a fairly manageable recapture penalty of $250,000 a year. Then came the rumors that their "owner" didn't have any "money" and that the NHL was going to take control of the team since they had just unloaded Phoenix and kind of missed the action.
Thankfully, new owners were quickly found and the franchise put back on strong financial footing. And since Kovalchuk's "retirement" had left New "Jersey" with some extra cap space, they immediately turned around and wisely spent that money on Jaromir Jagr and Ryan"e" Clowe.
Oh for cripes sake.
So yeah, the Devils really did sign 40 year old Jaromir Jagr. Now he, Patrick Elias and Danius Zubrus can all meet for a 4:00pm dinner at Denny's prior to night games. Even Ryane Clowe managed to get a bigger contract than Bryan Bickell did. God, Bickell's agent must be outstanding.
Speaking of overpaid, Travis Zajac's got quite a contract himself for a guy who's never cracked 30 goals in a season. But Devils' fans shouldn't worry, I'm sure Rusty Olesz can pick up the slack. I like the Michael Ryder deal though. That's pretty much the best I can say for this bunch.
The top three minutes getters (?) on the blue line for New Jersey last year were Marik Zidlicky, Bryce Salvador and Donald Greene. Honestly, the stench of Ben Gay in Devils' locker room must be absolutely overpowering. Mark Fayne and Adam Larsson are both young and since I didn't see a single Devils game last year I can't tell you a goddamn thing about them. Let's just say they might be good but it's more fun to assume they completely suck.
Speaking of old people, ladies and gentlemen, MARTIN BRODEUR. Yes, Marty's back for one last season at the age of 41, and we're going to assume that at best he'll be splitting time with Corey Schneider, who New Jersey acquired in trade from Vancouver on draft day. Assuming Schneider is as good as we've all assumed and Marty can give the team some decent play with a reduced workload, this could be the strongest part of the team.
The Smithsonian has agreed to loan the Devils Archie Bunker's chair for Martin Brodeur to sit on when he isn't playing in games. As part of the deal, Brodeur will then spend 6 months on display in the museum as soon as the season ends.
The most exciting thing to watch with the Devils this year will be the Jaromir Jagr trade speculation. This should start sometime in mid-October.
ARE THEY AS GOOD AS THE BLACKHAWKS?
Not a fucking chance.