Yes, I believe that this career Devil, the Robin to Madden's Batman, should not be offered another contract.
And yes, I know that he should have 4 or 5 Lady Byngs by now. I know he is one of the most underrated defensive forwards in the game. I know that he has anchored our top defensive line for pretty much 9 years. He's a great presence in the locker room, he knows the system and, most importantly, he won't be commanding some ridiculous contract.
This team, however, has to start making some changes and I think an important one is letting go of what you know (1st and 2nd round playoff exits) and putting in a few young players with potential. Our team, our organization is chalk full of solid 3rd and 4th liners. A couple of these may even be something more if they are given the chance.
Look at the left wings we have in our lineup already:
Elias- a natural left wing, also a solid centerman.
Parise- a great lw, but could be a potential center.
Zubrus- better lw than center, kinda seeing a trend here.
Then there's the whole youth movement:
Pelley- Could be good.
Clarke- Probably a career minor leaguer, but who knows?
Vrana- The big one. Many have him slotted as a center but it might be better to ease him into the majors on the wing. We already have one under-performing center in Zajac, should we risk having another?
Re-signing Pandolfo takes a spot away from the younger players and makes the entire lineup pretty tight if a free agent is somehow tricked into coming here. It pushes Zubrus onto a fourth line that he is clearly better than or he has to exert himself running around with Elias and Parise. He seems like a natural fit as the 3rd line left wing. Here's a potential lineup, not a dream or a promise, so please consider:
Elias - XXXXX - Gionta
Parise - Zajac - Bergfors
Zubrus - Madden - Langenbrunner
Vrana - Rupp - Clarkson
This is not a case of not liking Jay. Hell, I used to have a signed puck from the guy (though I had no idea who he was at the time). I just feel that the Devils will be a better team if they remove him from the equation. If he stays, the teams still quite good, but it's pretty much the same:
Parise - Elias - Bergfors
Zubrus - Zajac - Langenbrunner
Pandolfo - Madden - Gionta
Vrana - Rupp - Clarkson
Before his injury, Pando was on his way to a career high in points. It's possible he could completely recover from his injury and be the offensive talent he was in college. Or his injuries coupled with his age could slow him a step or two and he'll become just an ok defensive foward. This is a pretty big offseason, Brent's first whole one with the team, and I think adding youth plays to his strengths as well. So here's to letting go of a lifelong Devil... and it hurts to say that.
By the way, hello to everyone. Feel free to criticize, not that you wouldn't anyway, but you won't hurt my feelings.
Also the Bush things a joke, so no offense.