Think back for a moment to the New Jersey Devils' three Stanley Cup championships in 1995, 2000, and 2003. In each of these cases, several important roster changes needed to be made in order to eventually lead the Devils to the promised land. And with two key free agent signings now under their belts, perhaps the 2008-09 Devils are one trade away from Stanley Cup number four.
In the case of the first Stanley Cup in 1995, most of the pieces were already in place by spring of 1995. Instead of toying with team chemistry, a single trade was made which may not necessarily have put the team over the top, but certainly created a positive contribution to the subsequent playoff run. Little known Corey Millen was shipped off to Dallas in exchange for sniper Neal Broten. While Broten's contributions were felt throughout the entire 1995 Playoffs, his place in Devils lure is predominately highlighted by scoring the game winning goal in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Finals, completing the Devils' sweep of the Red Wings.
Two years later, a pair of homegrown Devils from the '95 team, Bill Guerin and Valeri Zelepukin, were sent packing to the Edmonton Oilers, while Jason Arnott went the other way to New Jersey. While it would be a few more seasons for the deal to truly pay off, Arnott ultimately scored the Cup-clinching goal in the 2000 Stanley Cup Finals. Arnott, paired with homegrowners Patrik Elias and Petr Sykora, created what is without a doubt the greatest offensive line in Devils history.
Trade Deadline, 2002: Just a few years removed from his career defining moment, Arnott was again involved in a critical trade which ultimately brought the Devils to glory. Arnott and long-time Devil Randy McKay were traded to Dallas in exchange for Joe Nieuwendyk and Jamie Langenbrunner. While Nieuwendyk would remain absent from the 2003 Stanley Cup Finals due to injury, Langenbrunner turned his game up during the '03 playoffs, becoming a consistent scorer the whole way through. Another major trade would ultimately seal the deal for the Devils in 2003: career Devil was sent to future Finals opponent Anaheim for Oleg Tverdovsky and Jeff Friesen, the latter of which would not only score the goal which sank Ottawa in the Conference Finals, but would also officially seal the deal in Game 7 of the Finals.
There is a point to all this reminiscing. With rumors flying around that underachieving Brian Gionta is on his way out of New Jersey, the right trade could bring in that critical final piece which may once again bring Lord Stanley to the Garden State, whether this upcoming season or in the near future.