The NJ Devils should trade Michael Ryder


It’s no secret that the Devils have a gluttony of forwards in training camp. There are 14 forwards signed to one-way contracts which means if they’re on the roster after camp, they will be on the team. An NHL roster is limited to 23 players and two of those are reserved for goaltenders, so there are only 21 skaters that can grab a roster spot. It’s vital to carry at least seven defensemen so if you do the math, the Devils technically do not have any open roster spots in camp.

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However, it would be very shocking if the current roster is the same group that Lou Lamoriello decides to bring to Phildelphia for opening night. It’s not like those 14 forwards don’t have any competition. Lamoriello brought in four veteran forwards on PTOs (or professional try outs) headlined by fan-favorite Ryan Carter. Carter deserves a spot on the roster more than anybody and it would be disheartening to everybody if he wasn’t signed. Then there’s fan-(non)-favorite Scott Gomez, Jordin

Tootoo and Ruslan Fedotenko also looking to wow the staff into giving them a contract. In addition to the veterans, Stefan Matteau and Reid Boucher along with other Albany Devils will be doing their best to make strong impressions with the big club.

My best guess is that Carter gets signed, Matteau and Boucher end up in Albany again, and the other three wind up playing somewhere else this season. So how does Carter get the contract he rightfully deserves if the roster is full? There has to be a trade. The only question is: who?

The way I see it, Lou has 4 realistic options of who he can trade.

1. Damien Brunner

Brunner’s name had surfaced earlier this month in relation to the Ottawa Senators, but nothing has grown out of that speculation. Brunner would be a piece that teams could want. He’s only 28 and produces well when he’s in the lineup. His contract is also very manageable with just one year left at $2.5 million. It’s funny because these are the exact reasons I want the Devils to keep him. He slots in well on the third line and brings a dimension of speed that the Devils sorely need. I mean, just look at this move in the video (from the Some Hockey Moves YouTube account) below!

Yeah, we can’t trade that. And no, that wasn’t a slash. Cowen just dropped his stick.

2. Dainius Zubrus

Zubrus was signed in 2007 to be the Devils’ top-line center. That hasn’t happened, but he has been a very valuable Devil regardless. In my opinion, he’s the most underrated member of the team. He’s not the best at anything but he’s solid in every aspect of the game. He’s a physical nightmare at 6’5″ 225 lbs. When he is in a puck battle on the boards, he comes away with possession nine times out of ten. He can play in all situations and hold his own on the power play if needed and especially on the penalty kill. The most important part of Zubrus’ game is that he can play all three forward postions. Last season he spent a lot of time on the top-line left wing and then also centered the third line late in the season. With two years left at $3.1 million, trading Zubrus would be more of a salary dump move of a 36-year-old, but I think moving such a ‘swiss army knife’ of a player would be a mistake.

(video from DevilsHQ YouTube account)

Check out Zubie’s effort defensively to prevent a goal and then the silky mitts to light the lamp. Love his game.

3. Tuomo Ruutu

Ruutu was acquired last season from Carolina at the trade deadline for Andrei Loktionov. The Devils got Ruutu to spark the offense (I guess). I wasn’t a fan of the trade at the time and I’m still not. To me, Ruutu is a glorified fourth line player. His contract is awful with two years remaining at $3.8 million (remember I don’t think he’s more than a fourth liner). Ruutu would be an upgrade over Steve Bernier on the fourth line right wing but he’d be even more valuable if he wasn’t on the team eating up nearly $4 million in cap space. I highly doubt Lou would trade him seeing as he just traded for him and I really don’t think anyone else would want to sniff that contract. Having him on this list is more of a pipe dream. Might as well add Jacob Josefson while I’m at it.

4. Michael Ryder

Last offseason, Michael Ryder signed a two year contract with the Devils worth $3.5 million a year so he only has one year left on that deal. Ryder is one of the most frustrating players I’ve ever watched. He will go on a streak where he scores a goal every night and I remember why I was so happy they signed him. Then he disappears for a month and I get really sad. Ryder has topped 25 goals five times in his career. So it would be crazy for a team that needs goals to trade a guy who can get them right? In theory yes, it’s really dumb. However, Ryder is the person I want Lou to trade because he just doesn’t fit New Jersey’s style of play. The Devils have always been defense first and Ryder is a ghost on the defensive end of the ice. Ryder’s gift is his ability to put the puck in the net, but he’s far too streaky of a goal scorer for that to be his only asset to the team. I also think that a team that could use some goals would be willing to give up a pretty decent draft pick to acquire someone with Ryder’s ability. So if, but more likely when, Lou makes a trade… Michael Ryder should be the player saying his goodbyes.