Devils turned a corner this off season and the response of this board is a testament to that. When Lou signed Malakhov, everyone was up in arms and we know how that played out. Lets see what has happened so far.
1. Cory Schneider: a pure and total heist. Everyone in the league agrees he is a top 5 or top 10 goalie in this league. We traded Nichuskin for Cory Schneider (assuming the Devils would've picked Nichuskin). Its like trading a proven Marty Brodeur calibre goalie for an unproven prospect straight up.
2. Re-Signed Elias, Zubrus: The only negative is the price at which we signed them. I was hoping for Elias around 5mill AAV and Zubrus 2.5mill AAV.
3. Lost Clarkson: Total locker room guy and very well liked by the fans as well. I think Lou turned the page on him at the draft because Lou realized he would stay in Toronto which made it easy to chase the other FAs and address the Devils offensive needs. Also asking price for Clarkson was a little too high. We all know about his on ice coughing up the puck and hoarding the puck etc. Clarkson was at best a 3rd liner.
4. Ryan Clowe: The positive is if this guy pans out, we just added Clarkson + 3, he brings all the elements of Clarkson + skating + goals + assists. On a line with Loki+Kovy or Elias+Zajac, he will create room feed the puck to an open player, in my opinion, a major upgrade on Clarkson. The negative, his injuries. If this guy works out, it will be an awesome signing, if injuries, then lots of I told you so's. Now Lou has the medical reports to support the former. This could be an awesome signing.
5. Olesz: A depth move, very very low risk, great signing for 700k + 300k playing bonus. This guy has enormous potential as per PDB when he played for him in Fla. He has been out for an entire year, its a work in progress.
6. Michael Ryder: 2yrs/7mill. Who would've thunk it. Awesome player, awesome price and on a line with Kovy or Elias.
7. Lost Hedberg: Sigh. Obviously another likeable person with an amazing character, unfortunately, the Devils are at a franchise turning point where Marty is at the verge of retiring and it was a move any GM would have to make.
Additions: Legit #1 Goaltender, 2 top 6 forwards, another true top 6 project in Olesz
Retained: 2 top 6 forwards, + hopefully 2 top 6 RFA forwards (Zubrus and JJ could be considered top 9 but they have top 6 potential)
Subtractions: 1 Backup Goaltender, 1 top 9 forward, 4 bottom 6 forwards (Poni/Kostopolous/Sullivan/D'Agostini), 1 top 4 DMan
From a forwards perspective, I think the Devils are pretty stacked and set. I mean we have Tedenby, Gionta and Barch as the extra forwards and some AHLers like Reid up and coming.
The only place where I feel Lou needs to focus now is defense. The organization still does not have a legit #1 DMan. 2 things on Defense I'd like to see:
1. No true #1 #2 DMen to power the blue line
2. Soft, Slow and Old, no meanies, defense needs to get bigger, meaner and younger
Larsson, Greene, maybe Tallinder: Top 4 defensemen
Salvadore, Volchenkov, Fayne, Harrold: Bottom pairings
Larsson has some ways to go before being a top 2 tier Dman, he is not there yet, he may break out this year, who knows. Comparing these guys to Weber, Suter, Stevens, Neidermeyer or Doughty makes one realize how mediocre they are.
Now if the season could start tomorrow....
I can agree that the D could definitely be meaner. But I wouldn't say they are small. Andy Greene or Harrold are small but, if someone like Urbom or even Gelinas make the lineup, Urbom especially, makes us bigger