Oh well, the Devils moved up to 17 and farmed a great player to become a great captain just so that they can prep him for his home state and he can wave back at the organization like a kid walking off to college after this team made all the right decisions about his development.
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He shouldn't be expecting any phone calls on how he's doing.
Harsh realities of a business, no sentiment; everything is run by money and contracts and competition. Zach understands, Lou understands, that's why Lou wasn't crying or upset. He tells it like it is, "You don't replace this guy."
Does NJ NEED him? Not really. The D-corps and offense is still strong. The only problem is that the team doesn't really have its captain. Potential suitors might be David Clarkson or Bryce Salvador as they both play with a lot of heart. Kovy and Elias are perfect assistants because they are more quiet leaders, but they won't go out and throw the big hit or score the big goal to change the momentum of the game the same as you want your captain to ideally do.
Some will consider NJ lost without him. NJ's recovered from worse (loss of Scott Stevens). Niedermeyer, Rafalski... NJ still has one of the best GMs in the league and that's all that counts.
So they need a scoring man capable of playing wing to do the job now. They can move Elias back to LW and Kovy back to LW with Zajac centering him and a possible top 6 right winger if not David Clarkson. And if not, they can play with Clarkson and see if Tedenby can fit the mold.
If they're trying to make a move via free agency some candidates are the following:
1. Semin, but he's a LW. NJ could try to ping this guy's psychological game, but with Kovy on the team, they have no business picking up another guy whom leaves an even bigger psychological pit in your line up than the simple absence of Parise.
2. Mueller would be a near ideal candidate barring his injury problems. Is he a capable top tier player? Yes. In fact, at the top of his game, he could put up to 70 points in a season, supposing he lasts that long. NJ probably won't invest in him because of that injury history, though.
3. Doan, though NJ would love his leadership, his loyalty will certainly be motivating him to play on teams that aren't the devils. If he's going anywhere, it's likely Winnipeg.
These three candidates would not be ideal as a result of it, though if pressed, they might make a play for Mueller.
If they're trying to trade:
1. Bobby Ryan - has to be the ideal choice, though questionable chemistry with Kovalchuk might leave him playing a second line role on the team while Clarkson gets bumped up and Kovy takes more of a playmaker role. Ryan and Kovy are both puckhandlers, which can lead to a result in stifling one another's numbers.
Jersey would have difficulty giving Anaheim what they'd need to acquire him, though.
2. Patrick Kane - rumoured to be available, but would also come at a high price. If Jersey could somehow make a move for him, he might be an ideal choice. Problem is that Jersey may not have what the Hawks are looking for (solid goaltending).
3. Evander Kane - also rumoured to be available, could play the wing. This bulldog ripped one in on Brodeur once and embarrassed NJ's defense one night against the Thrashers and I'm sure Lou's never forgotten. He certainly has heart.
And though others might passively be available, Lou is absolutely right; you don't replace Parise.
So it looks like the Devils and their fans will have to suck it up and see if someone else can fit the shoes of a scoring winger in the organization. The only pieces they have to move are 3-4 type defense, and the teams looking for them would only have budding NHL players to offer in return, which means acquiring them at a risk.
Mueller right now appears the best move to try to fill in those ranks. But maybe the best move at this juncture is simply not to make any and see how the Devils fare without him during the season.
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