Devils Make Big Deals Before the Trade Deadline
East Rutherford, New Jersey – It's been a busy 72 hours in New Jersey. With the trade deadline one week away, the Devils made two big moves this week, as three significant additions were made to the roster. The trades are an indication that the team is gearing up for a championship run.
On Monday, the Devils reacquired two familiar faces, bringing back forwards Bobby Carpenter and Steve Thomas for prospect Jamal Mayers, a first round draft pick, and two second round draft selections. Two days later, the Devils made a blockbuster move with the Flyers, acquiring veteran all-star defenseman Ray Bourque from Philadelphia for Brian Rolston and three first round draft picks.
The Devils added a wealth of leadership and experience in Bourque, Carpenter and Thomas, who are all in their mid-30s, and are all expected to play pivotal roles as the Devils prepare for a deep playoff run.
"The Bourque trade is a surprising one," said TSN analyst Pierre McGuire. "On paper, it appears the Devils have their top six-seven defensemen set, but they just made a significant upgrade to their blueline."
"Bringing in Carpenter and Thomas not only adds depth to their forward lines, but they're both great two-way players, and I think they were acquired to not only provide a spark offensively, but they can also play on the other side of the puck and contribute on special teams," said McGuire.
Bourque, who appeared in his last game as a Flyer earlier today, was pulled early in the second period in a matchup against Washington. He is expected to join his new teammates in New Jersey for a home game against the Red Wings, though it is uncertain if he will dress tomorrow.
Blues at the Half
Strip Club Up the Street
Well not a lot has been coming out of the Blues management this season. Usually one of the more vocal GM's in the league, Oly has been relatively quiet. One would have thought that his ego would not let him shut up, about winning the championship, last season. But quite the opposite has happened. He has disappeared for most of it. But this is about the Blues. Especially, the Blues at the half.
Disappointing. Yes, that is the word. Disappointing. The Blues won their first title in franchise history last season. Mike Vernon and Denis Savard were the major factors in that run. But this year, it is a different story. Yes, Denis Savard is having another all star season. With 45 points in 42 games he sits second on the team, just behind a resurging Mats Sundin. But Mike Vernon is not. He is having a tough go of it in net this season. With a 3.73 goals against average, it looks like he is having a hard time stopping a beach ball. But he has a decent save % at .870. Not great, but decent. Considering that JVB has a save % at just .844 and goals against average of an abysmal 4.23, the options are limited.
So what happened to the Blues. They lost players. Key players. Mats Naslund went to Calgary. But the one that hurt the most was Bernie Federko going to Ottawa. Not only did the heart and soul leave "his" franchise, it devastated GM Oly. According to an insider, "he felt like Federko betrayed him and turned his back on the franchise." But that was not the case. According to Bill McKenzie, "Oly left him exposed and Ottawa manned up."
But they they also lost Greg Gilbert and Brad McCrimmon to retirement. This left a big hole in the defensive play of the team. Both were defensive specialists and both helped to keep the line of vision clear for Vernon and JVB. This left a big hole on defense, especially with the players not signed by GM Olsen. Was that a mistake? Well he did sign a few more defensemen to contracts but that has done not a lot. It has slowed the water coming through the dam but it is still leaking. The Blues have been getting better. After going 1-9 in their first 10 games, they are now just 4 games under .500 and only 2 points back of a playoff spot.
Now there is breaking news. The St. Louis Blues and the Detroit Red Wings have come to terms with a trade. Going to Detroit is Denis Savard and Mike Vernon. Coming back from Detroit is Mike Ridley and Trevor Kidd. Kidd will become the Blues goalie of the future. Something that they have been lacking since the Mike Liut days. Plus they will be getting a first round pick. Savard will definitely help the Red Wings and Vernon, well if he can remember how to play, he could make Detroit unstoppable.
So the dismantling has begun. Apparently the Blues are open for business, and apparently have lowered their prices.
Jock Strapp reporting, TSN, St. Louis
Doug Brown Reaches 1,000-Game Milestone
East Rutherford, New Jersey – Earlier this week, veteran forward Doug Brown became the first player in New Jersey Devils' history to appear in 1,000 games with the team. Brown, who has spent his entire 14-year career in New Jersey, ranks second all-time in scoring in Devils' history with 518 points.
"What Brownie has accomplished is a true testament of his perseverance and durability throughout his career," said head coach Darryl Sutter.
Brown, who joined the Devils in the expansion draft as an undrafted prospect, made his pro debut at 19, and scored an impressive 23 goals and 57 points as a rookie. Thirteen seasons later, Brown finds himself as the franchise leader in assists with 336, and third all-time in goals with 182.
"Even though he doesn't wear a letter on his sweater, everyone in the room looks up to Brownie," said team captain Scott Stevens. "He's played so many different roles on this team, and he offers up a ton of experience to all of the young players coming through the pipeline."
Despite playing a diminished role as a depth forward on the roster, Brown has not deterred from his desire to win. "I owe a lot to this franchise, they gave me my start, and they have been loyal to me. It is an honor to reach this milestone with the team that gave me my first opportunity, and I realize how rare it is to accomplish this all with one team."
Although Brown has one-year remaining on his contract, he is hoping to remain with the club in some capacity. "Whether they want me back as a player or in a different role, I want to remain within the organization, and I want to be there when we inevitably win our first championship."