I leave you guys for two weeks, and all hell breaks loose. Great job guys.
Little stuff first, the Schedule and Pre-Season schedule was released and as soon as I can get acclimated to the Eastern Time Zone again, I’ll have it posted at njdevils.info.
Now literally the day I leave, the Devils finally decide to name a head coach. So this news is a little stale: former Devils coach Jacques Lemaire will be returning behind the Devils bench as the new head coach.
My thoughts: not a bad deal. I’m not entirely sold on it, but the Devils need help of defense and this guy turned our defense around and won a cup out of it in 1995. The question in my mind is if he’s still effective in the more offensive minded NHL today?
In addition to this, John MacLean will be departing as the assistant coach to take a "promotion" to Lowell as their head coach.
My thoughts: a little odd – was there something between Lemaire and MacLean back when he was a player? I believe he was given the option to stay or take head coach job up in Lowell, but perhaps being a head coach at the AHL level is the right direction to take to then become a coach in the NHL level. Brent Sutter did that and look at how well that turned out! 😉
Some mixed emotions linger on a defensive signing of Cory Murphy, who has played a total of 79 career games in the NHL. He’s 5′ 10" and at 185 pounds, he’s one of the smaller players on the ice for the team.
My thoughts: this seems like a step backwards compared to our entry draft signings – I assume he’s going to start the year out in Lowell but we’ll have to see what comes of training camp. Maybe he fits the new system Lemaire is working on…
Travis Zajac was also slated to enter salary arbitration with the Devils for the 2009-10 season. The two sides however came to a deal before this occurred and he has been signed to a 4 year deal.
My thoughts: with the loss of important offensive players, the Devils need Zajac, but I wonder if he’s being set up for a trade. His contact goes from $2.5 for next season to $3.5 in 2010-11, and then $4.5 the following season. Those are some hefty pay raises and he could possibly be on the trading block next season if he doesn’t live up to his $1 million raises.
Kevin Weekes, although not official, appears to finally be out of a job. Devils GM Lou Lamoriello says decisions are still being made, but the Devils signed Islander goalie Yann Danis to a one year, $500,000 contract. It’s the league minimum contract amount so it’s possible the Devils are just trying to keep their options open.
My thoughts: I personally like the guy, but we need to drop Weekes. He’s not a solid backup for the aging Martin Brodeur, but the likes of Danis, who played with the official NHL Goalie Injury Team, the New York Islanders, last season has yet to prove himself as a solid NHL netminder. I smell the likes of a Clemmensen-ish situation occurring all over again: new untested goalie comes in, performs magic, sits on bench when Brodeur returns, signs a good contract with someone else next season.
Okay, I think we’re all on the same page now. Time to fix this jet-lag!