Lou Lamoriello Needs To Immediately Call Up Youth From Albany


The fact that Lou Lamoriello, General Manager of the New Jersey Devils, hasn’t given the team’s youth in Albany a real chance this season is a major issue. The Devils are old, slow and frankly bad. They are 12 points out of eighth place in the East with just 26 games remaining. They would have to go on an epic run to sneak into the playoffs. It is extremely unlikely that they will given their recent performances. Coming out of the All-Star Break, the Devils went 4-0-1 but still weren’t playing well. Now they’re currently in the midst of a four-game losing streak. To be fair, they’ve played some tough teams in Montreal, Chicago and Nashville all on the road. However, it’s the absolute stinker they laid against Edmonton at home that left a sour taste in my mouth.

It’s not just this last week or the last month. The Devils have been a bad team ever since the fourth game of the season. They started off 3-0-0 and it all went downhill from there. They rely solely on Cory Schneider – and occasionally Keith Kinkaid – to bail them out night after night and it’s getting old. They get outshot by double digits virtually every game and don’t even look like they’re on the same level as NHL teams half the time. This old, slow team needs an influx of youth and they need it now.

Dec 31, 2014; Detroit, MI, USA; New Jersey Devils right wing Joe Whitney (33) receives congratulations from defenseman Marek Zidlicky (2) and right wing Jordin Tootoo (20) after scoring in the second period against the Detroit Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Guys like Reid Boucher, Joe Whitney and Stefan Matteau should have been given more of a chance earlier in the season, but Lou Lamoriello decided to rely on older forwards. That simply has not worked. He believed that the veteran core could lead the Devils into the playoffs, but it hasn’t. At this point in the season, there’s no reason why guys like Dainius Zubrus, Michael Ryder and Martin Havlat should take minutes from the small bit of youth the Devils have that could make an impact next season. Boucher and Whitney have played just eight games while Matteau wasn’t able to dress in his one call up. Instead guys like Tim Sestito and Mike Sislo got more playing time in their call ups. Not only is Lamoriello hurting this season by playing underachieving veterans, but he’s hurting the future by not developing the youth.

There’s less than two months left in a failed season and the only way to salvage what’s left is to see if the youth can hack it at this level. This philosophical issue isn’t just at forward; it can be found on defense as well. Up until this weekend, Eric Gelinas was stuck being a healthy scratch. The biggest issue about that is Peter Harrold and Mark Fraser, two journeymen defenders, were playing over him. It makes much more sense to play Gelinas and Seth Helgeson and let them learn the ropes. Those two have a real future with the Devils unlike Harrold and Fraser.

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I understand there’s an issue with roster spots, but it seems likely that the Devils will try and trade veterans for draft picks at the deadline on March 2nd – at least theoretically. Guys like Jaromir Jagr and Marek Zidlicky could bring some nice returns which would open up spots for some youth from Albany. It seems unlikely Ryder, Havlat or Zubrus could bring back much, if anything, but the first two are in expiring deals so you never know. As far as Zubrus, the team could always waive him or buy him out.

In the end, it’s up to Lou Lamoriello to figure out how to make the team younger. There are plenty of options that will let the Devils figure out some sort of picture of what the future looks like. Wouldn’t you like to know if Reid Boucher can be a top six forward? How about if Stefan Matteau can be a middle six power forward? I know I sure would. What better time than right now?

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