For every beginning there has to be an end (insert Alpha-Omega reference here). So with all the major players graded....its time to take a look into next year's crystal ball. What could next season have in store for the Devils...what may they or may they not do? Sure it is all speculation at this point but that is what makes it fun....doesn't it? Well let's get down to it....it gets dirty this time of year after all.
FORWARDS THAT COULD HELP
Well if Scott Gomez does indeed sign somewhere else...which I say is 80% likely at this point in time...the Devils are going to need a center. Who could be out there?
Daniel Briere / Chris Drury
So what about one of these two guys to the left? It is no secret that Buffalo wants both of these guys back...and Drury is more than willing to stay. Briere had a not so good postseason but he is also willing to take a long term contract with a "hometown" discount. While I am willing to say it is a better chance of seeing Briere in Devil Red....it is also a rather remote chance at that. More than likely, both these centers will stay in Buffalo so the Devils will likely have to look elsewhere.
Well hey, he did have a pretty good second half....and could fit in with the Devils players really well. However, there is that feeling that he may not be able to handle the big time scoring needs of the Devils. Face it, we need a center that can dish the puck but maybe put 20-30 biscuits in the basket possibly. I don't think that really is too unreasonable for a first line center. His salary is attractive compared to Gomez, Briere, Drury, etc. I do think he will get more on the market but I think the Devils may want to go from within first. Not very likely he is bleeding Devil Red for October.
A nice, versatile two way center who could also fit right in with the Devils and has a salary that isn't so bad to stomach. But Smolinski presents a different problem....AGE. He is 36 right now and may be showing signs of slowing down. His last 20 games...he had 7 points...and barely produced in the playoffs (no points agains the Ducks). Yes he is American and did play on the Olympic Team when Lou was the GM....but that is as far as the connection trail goes. He has a better chance of signing with the Devils than the other 3...but maybe a 20 or 25% chance.
The Others And What To Do:
</span>Realistically, the Devils could go after some aging vet even a Zubrus perhaps...but honestly, I think going from within may be the best bet...moving Clarkson up to the top line with Parise as a Center may just work...have Elias play the Wing. Langenbrunner and Gionta could work well together and if one of our AHL guys can step up...it could be just enough. Save a little here to build a little more later and retool. It may just be the way to go.