The New Jersey Devils have been heating up lately, thanks to spectacular efforts from players like Martin Brodeur and Jaromir Jagr. However, big off-season acquisitions like Damien Brunner and Michael Ryder have been slumping through the success that the team has begun to experience.
The summer of 2012 saw the loss of both Ilya Kovalchuk and David Clarkson. As the season began, there was a great deal of buzz about who will fill their roles, and how they will do so. Brunner and Ryder were typically at the forefront of this conversation.
General Manager Lou Lamoriello had his eye on Swiss winger Damien Brunner when the Detroit Red Wings failed to renew his contract; the Devils thought they were getting lucky when they invited him to training camp and ultimately negotiated a two-year, $5 million deal. He seemed to adapt to his new surroundings immediately and posted five points in his first five games after a strong preseason. Unfortunately, his numbers have not accumulated throughout his next 14 games.
Aside from a multi-point game in Boston in which he scored a goal and an assist, Brunner’s production has been halted since his promising initial five games in New Jersey. Peter DeBoer does not appear to be worried about this, however, and he still sees regular ice time. Brunner currently rides a nine-game scoreless streak.
As a last-minute PTO pickup, Brunner was meant to complement the firepower of other offseason acquisitions – namely, Jaromir Jagr and seasoned right winger Michael Ryder. After winning the Stanley Cup with the Boston Bruins in 2010-2011, Ryder spent some time with the Dallas Stars and his original team, the Montreal Canadiens, before signing a two-year, $7 million contract with New Jersey.
Much like Brunner, Ryder came out swinging with two goals in his first three games. Unfortunately, Ryder’s slump has been just about the same; he has been held to just three goals and two assists in his following 17 contests. He tends to score in spurts, but his spurts have not been frequent enough nor long enough to warrant the extra money he’s making over Damien Brunner. Both players have earned seven points on the season.
While Ryane Clowe was also among the offseason buzz, he has only participated in six games due to injury. All six of these games came before the Devils found their first win, and it remains to be seen whether Clowe will find a groove upon returning to the lineup.
Jaromir Jagr and Martin Brodeur have been keeping the Devils’ hopes alive with sporadic help from the blue line. With a challenging three-game road trip beginning on Wednesday in Anaheim, the team will look for contribution from their entire roster. If Damien Brunner and Michael Ryder continue slumping through the team’s tour of a dominating west coast, it could be a long and painful trip.
Topics: New Jersey Devils