devilsrule33 Posted April 28, 2015 Share Posted April 28, 2015 (edited) The more and more I watch the playoffs and evaluate the past season and the current roster, the more I believe that next season NEEDS to be a "retooling season". I've posted that opinion over the last few months in a number of threads, but I am going to try and peace it all together here. Plenty of teams have been able to pull a quicker turn-around. The key is immediately understanding when your team is not close to competing, trading players to collect assets, and avoiding using future cap space on band-aids. Granted don't know Lou's game plan, but I have a feeling that isn't it. Lets recap what Lou has said during the year and after the season ended: "I think that we have to get a couple of offensive forwards, Our role players are outstanding. Our defense, I'm extremely pleased with. Goaltending, I don't think say enough about it the way it's been. So we have to get a couple offensive players.” We certainly will look at somebody within the framework of the system that we play – defense first. But we also have to get some offensive players too to complement that.” "I still feel good about the team that came into training camp. Things didn't go right for different reasons and I take that responsibility.” “I don't think there is any question there has been progress made. Where the progress has been made is in the people who are our core people – whether it's the Adam Henriques or Travis Zajacs – we have to get them to be at the level they should be. For whatever reasons, they weren't at the level they needed to be and some or our younger defensemen just weren't progressing the way – and I'll put it on me – I thought they should. I'll take that responsibility for that. But, at this point, we're seeing that and we're seeing a sense of confidence and trust in each other in those type of players.” These quotes are ridiculous. These are the kind of quotes from a GM that doesn't have to answer to anyone or doesn't have to answer to anyone with a hockey background. Either Lou is delusional about his own team or he's too damn stubborn to admit that he's wrong. I get it -- fair or unfair, it's tough for a GM to admit that he's overrated his extremely flawed roster, and that the team played to close to its ability and it was never going to be good enough. Most GMs don't get the chance to say, "Things aren't good, I made some mistakes, but I'm confident I can turn it around with a few patient years." Usually you have to be pretty damn tight with someone in ownership to get to rebuild your own problems. Does this ever happen? Rutherford for a bit in Carolina? Instead, if you haven't been fired after 4 missed playoff seasons in 5 years, you are usually left to double down on a flawed roster, or you are kind of oblivious. I understand not everyone is Lou Lamoriello, and it's clear that his past success is keeping him around for now. Maybe he feels some pressure to make the playoffs (I doubt it), maybe age has a part to do with it -- when you are 72, I bet you don't want to be going into any season with the mindset that we are going to take a step back and not be that competitive, but Lou Lamoriello thinks they're close. Not sure what they are close to, but whatever it is, they are far off. So lets look at the Offense that is needing a couple of forwards... The Devils surely need a few offensive forwards desperately to be competitive, but not the ones you can trade for with Gelinas and a 2nd pick and not the ones you sign a free agent. It's the kind of players you get with the 1st overall draft this year, or by adding the 1st overall draft pick a decade earlier (Crosby) or by adding Seguin and Kane. The forward group sucks. It really really sucks. It's fvcking terrible. It's not just missing a couple of offensive players. It's missing two centers. It's missing top wingers. It needs an entirely new top 6. Yes, on another team with great lineups, a few guys can be top 6 players, but definitely not with each other. This is the group as of now for next season: Mike Cammalleri - 33 Patrik Elias - 39 Travis Zajac - 30 Adam Henrique - 25 Scott Gomez - 36 (UFA, but I expect him to be back) Dainius Zubrus - 37 (Maybe he's back) Tuomo Ruutu - 32 Jacob Josefson - 24 Stephen Gionta - 32 Steve Bernier - 30 (UFA, Devils probably want him back) Jordin Tootoo - 32 (UFA, Devils probably want him back) It's old. Like really really old. While team's have made concerted effort's to get younger, the Devils have doubled down on old age...mostly out of necessity. I bolded two players in-particular -- the "young" guys and the ones Lou mentioned specifically in one of the quotes above. It's tough for a GM to know the league that well. You're gonna swing and miss on free agent signings. But you have to get a good feel for your own personnel. If you overrate your core players, that will lead you down a really ugly path. I'm afraid that's what Lou is doing with Adam Henrique and Travis Zajac. Just because Adam Henrique is your leading scorer doesn't mean he's that good. Just because he's your only key forward under 30, doesn't mean he should be part of the core. Just because he scored a big OT goal doesn't mean he's some clutch big game player. And even if he had these mythical qualities, there's 82 games of meh play stopping him from unleashing big game Adam. By now, you have an idea what he is, an average forward with limited abilities/awareness that has a good shot, but doesn't shoot enough. Then there's Travis Zajac. He's a useful player, but the man made history when he averaged 19 minutes of ice-time, 2+ minutes of PP time per game and had 25 points. That's absolutely incredibly hard to pull off. The 2008-2010 Travis with Parise is not part of this organization. He's not going to be that player with anyone else on this roster or anyone you bring in. There could be a small offensive resurgence, but I'd refuse to bet on it. THESE ARE YOUR ONLY AVERAGE PLAYERS UNDER 30 ON YOUR ROSTER. Understand what they can and cant do and act accordingly. No Pete Deboer did not get them off track, and Adam Oates sure as hell didn't get them back to the level that they should be. And say he actually did, you were up close to see what that actual level was. A few notes on some other forwards... Mike Cammalleri - A lot of people have said this was a nice win for Lou. Someone said there is no winning in free agency, and there sure as hell isn't any winning after year 1. I have my doubts about Cammalleri moving forward. Triumph discussed a bit about him in another thread, but he isn't going to make others better, and there isn't anyone currently on the team that really helps him get his ridiculous shot off. This is part of the issue with going after any winger. The Devils have no centre to currently play him with, and it's pretty much impossible to get a good centre. The UFA list is miserable. Fisher and Vermette lead the list, and besides both being wayyyyyyyyyyy past their prime with a sh!t ton of miles, between the two of them - there is one single 30 assist season. Patrik Elias - There's gonna be some good from Elias and some bad, but his best days ahead are not coming with this team. I absolutely love Elias, but I see no reason for him to be on this team next year. It's best for his long-term, and the Devils long-term to move him immediately, and acquire assets. I'm taking my chances that his value will be higher now than it is in early March. Steve Bernier and Jordin Tootoo - Do not overpay for role players after a good season. We've all seen enough of that throughout the league, and it never pays off. These players move around from team to team, and they can be replaced easily. Tootoo was in the AHL last season. Bernier to start this year. Now they'll probably get term and more $$$. One of these guys should be back at the right price. But we've seen four years of Steve Bernier, but no one should be wowed about what either did when getting PP time and bigger minutes. That's just how hockey works. These two are just examples I've heard about the Devils bottom 6 being solidified, or Lou saying the role players are outstanding". Look around at the good teams. You'll find better than Gionta, Zubrus, Ruutu, Josefson, Bernier, Tootoo on most of them. This isn't a strictly top 6/bottom 6 league. The top players only play 18-19 min a night. There are fewer PPs than ever. You need depth and scoring throughout your lineup. If the Devils don't have much in the "top 6", they definitely need to make up for it on the "bottom 6", which they most certainly will not looking at the names above. Defense To even want to believe your team can compete, you need to really like the defense. Without any forward prospects, it's easy to really want to like the future on the back end. There's a lot of potential, but it just potential right now. Gelinas is crap. Merrill had a dreadful season. Larsson was pretty solid with Greene, and hopefully we see the next step, and I have high hopes for Severson. There's a lot of question marks and a few holes to fill -- more if either Gelinas or Merrill is traded. Just a reminder because a lot of people acknowledge the offense is a problem, but seem to think the offense is a few improvements away because of Schneider and the Devils defense from 2003 apparently. Not quite. Anyway, I'm not going to make this a thread where I lay out a potential roster for next season (that's one of the best annual threads, and can be saved for later), but I do have a few suggestions. This really is the most important off-season in franchise history, and it sickens me how fvcked up it could get. There was only one person who could have saved 2015-2016 from being a dreadful one. He's going to Edmonton. There's nothing else out there to save the Devils. That's fine with me. I have no problem rooting for terrible teams as long as there is a big picture goal out there. I'll gladly sign up for a year that Buffalo or Arizona had if it brings us a top 3-4 pick in 2016 and financial flexibility for a much better free agent class. What pains is me is another year like this with the GM saying, "I still feel good about the team that came into training camp. Things didn't go right for different reasons and I take that responsibility.” My off-season wishlist: - Do not trade the 6th pick for any roster player. Keep it and draft a forward, or trade down for a forward and acquire more picks. - Do not trade either of the 2nd round picks unless it is to move up into the 1st round to acquire a forward. - Trade Patrik Elias either before the draft with the main asset being some picks in the 2015 draft, or in the off-season with 1 close to NHL prospect being available (gladly take back a bad contract with only 1yr left on the deal). - Do not sign any free agent forward for more than 2 yrs and $4 million. Pretty much avoid anyone in the top 15-20 list that is seeking more than 2yrs - Buy out Zubrus - Look to trade Gelinas for a forward prospect - Sign Scott Gomez (if I am going to watch a few games, I need one player that can pass the puck) Expect to struggle, and accept it because the alternative is much worse. Edited May 5, 2015 by devilsrule33 Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
Join the conversation
You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.