The New Jersey Devils enter the 2012-2013 season with many questions. Though there may be uncertainty up front after the loss of Zach Parise, there is a beneficial problem in their own end. Too many quality d-men and not enough roster spots.
The Eastern Conference Champions have eight NHL quality defensemen, along with solid prospects waiting in the wing. The result? A log jam, that will not only push each player to play their best in order to keep seeing ice time, but it also allows the Devils to look into some trade possibilities.
Here are the cap numbers of the eight defensemen currently under contract who saw substantial time last season: (Source: GapGeek.com)
The question remains, who starts the season in the top six? You can make a strong case for all of these players, but there have already been rumblings of a possible trade. Parting with one of these eight players makes sense. Though it is nice to have depth, what good does it do to have a NHL caliber player not dressing on a consistent basis?
The knee-jerk reaction based on performance, would be to trade Anton Volchenkov. That won’t happen though, because he has a no-trade clause and he has vastly underperformed his 4.25 million cap number. Even trading Marek Zidlicky would be tough, not only because of his limited NTC, but his cap hit of 4 million, accompanied with his age makes him a tough piece to move.
Greene is a durable, solid, second pairing defenseman who is well liked on the team and has value. He hasn’t missed a lot of games and at only 29, with a cap hit of 3 million per, he could fit in well almost anywhere. The Devils lack depth at right wing and perhaps Greene, accompanied by a combination of prospects or picks could turn into a solid acquisition to bolster the scoring depth.
Another trade option would be Mark Fayne. Why Fayne? He showed steady improvement last season and after gaining more experience with the deep playoff run, he is showing he can be a solid NHL contributor. Is he going to knock your socks off with his play? No, but his reasonable cap hit of 1.3 million is an easy pill for any team to swallow. He has value as an up-and-coming young player and the Devils wouldn’t be losing a leader like they would be in trading away Greene.
As for veterans Bryce Salvador and Henrik Tallinder, they will most likely stay put. Salvador is not only a leader, but may end up wearing the “C” before the season ends. If he plays close to as well as he did in the playoffs last season, he’s easily the best defenseman on the team.
As for Tallinder, he’s a solid veteran who can continue to mentor Adam Larsson and with his major injury from last year, it is doubtful that other teams would take a chance with him.
Peter Harrold seems like a perfect candidate to play the seventh defenseman role. Not only is he cheap, ($525,000 per) but he has playoff experience as well and at the age of 29, he’s not likely to field may offers.
The fact is, General Manager Lou Lamoriello is always looking to improve this team and the Devils can be a much better team by finding a way to move one of their extra defensemen to gain some scoring help. While it would make perfect sense to do so, only time will tell. One thing is for certain, having a glut of d-men is never a bad thing.
Here’s the projected Devils defensive pairings for the 2012-2013 season:
Bryce Salvador – Marek Zidlicky
Anton Volchenkov – Henrik Tallinder
Adam Larrson – Mark Fayne
What combination of players do you think gives the Devils the best chance to succeed this season?
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