Trying to guess which moves New Jersey Devils General Manager Lou Lamoriello will make at the NHL trade deadline, is like using Jedi mind-tricks playing three-dimensional chess. It’s awfully tough to do. Though with the Devils ranking 25th in goals scored and 26th in face-off percentage, those are areas the team could be looking to boost up.
What the Devils need to do is balance the fine line of deciding how much of a splash they need to make to make sure they qualify for the postseason, all the while knowing that they will have Dainius Zubrus and Ilya Kovalchuk back for that run. They may need to do something regardless but nothing rash out of desperation. So what players might make a solid fit going forward?
Jaromir Jagr (Dallas Stars): When the Devils last played a truncated season, the missing piece to the puzzle was also a member of the Stars. Neal Broten. Jagr has a pair of Cups and is already familiar with the Atlantic Division, having played for the Philadelphia Flyers, New York Rangers and Pittsburgh Penguins. Jagr, who just notched the 1,000th point of his illustrious career, presently paces Dallas with 14 tallies and 26 points. Plus, putting him with fellow Czech Patrik Elias, could be a real boon to the club. Additionally, Jagr has six points on the power play, which also leads the Stars.
Steve Sullivan (Phoenix Coyotes): When you’re a kid, there’s always the first time when you’re disappointed that your favorite player gets traded away. That player for me was Steve Sullivan, when the Devils sent him to the Toronto Maple Leafs. That was a different time and a different NHL, when smaller guys had a tougher time in proving they could stick. Sullivan knows the Devils system and philosophy. He’ll be hungry for a Cup at this stage of his career and could provide the club a real spark. On the campaign, Sullivan has five goals and seven assists.
PA Parenteau/Milan Hejduk (Colorado Avalanche): The vastly underrated Parenteau, who has also played in the area with the Rangers and New York Islanders, could make for a nice fit. Parenteau currently leads the Avs with 14 goals and 34 points, along with five points on the power play. As for Hejduk, while he isn’t lighting it up like he used to, he does own a Cup, five game winners in the playoffs and 76 playoff points. Plus he could be rejuvenated by playing alongside fellow Czech Elias.
Marcel Goc (Florida Panthers): Much like Ryan Carter and Steve Bernier a year before, another Peter DeBoer Panther special. Marcel, whose brother and defenceman Sascha, used to play for the Devils, would offer a specialty on the face-off dot. On the season, Goc has won 51.4% of his draws. Plus, Goc has a good deal of playoff experience with the Panthers, Nashville Predators and San Jose Sharks.
Paul Gaustad (Nashville Predators): Yes the Predators just got Gaustad from the Buffalo Sabres last year but again another grinder type guy, who could play a very big role as a role player. Currently, Gaustad ranks second in the league in face-off percentage, winning 60.7% of his draws. Gaustad also has 48 playoff games under his belt.
Joe Whitney (Albany Devils): No, not a trade but an internal option. Given the shuffling and mixing and matching of players on the Albany/New Jersey shuttle, why not Whitney? Just last year it was a little guy from Boston College, who paid his dues in the minors and gave the Devils a spark. Stephen Gionta. After a club high 44 points and 29 helpers last year, Whitney is white hot this year. On the year, Whitney already has a career high of 24 goals 46 points. As of this writing, Whitney is riding a five-game point streak and has recorded a point in 13 of the last 16 games.
Michael Gwizdala covers the New York Islanders for The Hockey Writers. Michael is also an Associate Producer at WNYT NewsChannel 13. Additionally, Michael was once a Media Relations intern for the AHL Albany River Rats. Michael is a graduate of The College of Saint Rose in Albany, NY.