The Devils trade of Jamie Langenbrunner back to Dallas yesterday could be the beginning of a significant housecleaning, although GM Lou Lamoriello won’t call it a rebuilding. “I despise the word ‘rebuilding,”‘ Lamoriello said in a conference call.
“We have to look at the reasons why we’re in this position. Maybe it’s
talent. Maybe it’s chemistry. We have to be very careful and look at the
Rich Chere of The Newark Star-Ledger thinks big center Jason Arnott could be next. Arnott’s contract, which brings him $4.5 million this season, expires at the end of the season and he would be unrestricted free agent July 1. He has not been particularly effective this season, with 9 goals and 8 assists in 40 games and a minus-12 rating. There are rumblings his foot speed has diminished.
It doesn’t appear that goalie Martin Brodeur will be traded however. Lamoriello said he wouldn’t listen to offers for the 38-year-old
goalie, Brodeur said (quoted by Chere): “I’m not surprised. I’ve had a great relationship
(with management) throughout my career. At the end it’s their decision.
I’ve made it pretty clear I don’t want to go anywhere. I want to stay
in New Jersey. But if their mind changes, there’s not much you can do.
“Right now, we will be making every decision that we possibly can to
push ourselves forward to certainly get out of what we’re in right now,”
Lamoriello said. “I believe that right now we have to get a total
consistent approach and everybody has to put aside whatever aspirations
we had at the beginning of the year – whatever we looked at as the team
on paper – and right now whatever decisions have to be made going
forward will have to be made for the right reasons. There could be more,
* * *
Anyone who watched Russia’s games in the World Junior Championship had
to be impressed with the play of two Russian forwards, Evgeni Kuznetsov
and Vladimir Tarasenko, each had 4 goals and 7 assists, the second
highest total after Canada’s Brayden Schenn.
Tarasenko, considered the top Russian prospect
of the 2010 draft class, is property of the Blues; Kuznetzov, whose
spectacular play in the medal round sparked comeback victories, is the
property of the Capitals, as is Dmitri Orlov and both of those players were selected to the All-Tournament team.
How quickly these players will be in the NHL is anyone’s guess. Tarasenko is signed through the end of this season with Novosibirsk Siber of the KHL, and the Blues cannot talk to him until the completion of his season. If
Tarasenko makes Russia’s roster for the World Championships, the
Blues may not be allowed to talk to him until May. Kuznetsov and Orlov each have a year remaining on their contracts with their teams
in the KHL, Traktor and Novokuzetsk Metallurg respectively.
* * *
One of the hottest teams in the NHL — besides the first overall Canucks — is the Minnesota Wild, who have captured 15 of 20 points since mid-December and have joined the sardine pack in the middle of the Western Conference that has a mere 5 point spread between the fourth place Predators and the 13th place Blue Jackets. The Wild have 45 points.
The Wild have been particularly effective on the road where they’ve gotten 14 of 18 points since December and after downing the Bruins in Boston 3-1 on Thursday, the Wild play tonight in Pittsburgh, where the home team will again be without their captain, Sidney Crosby.
One of the keys to their game is that coach Todd Richards allows his defence to venture deep in the offensive zone, with the third forward in the zone covering for him. “We’re finding out that the system is working when we’re doing it
right,” defenceman Greg Zanon told Michael Russo of The Minneapolis Star-Tribune. “It’s more trust in each other within the system.
The defencemen know now that we can go down and pinch the wall because the third [forward] will be there, and sure
enough, you turn around and he’s right there.”
Their also getting solid all around play from players like Martin Havlat, who is not just excelling offensively (9-27-36 in 40 games, one point more than Mikko Koivu), but in all aspects of the game. Against the Bruins, he scored the game’s first goal by driving through traffic, finishing with a backhand shot (video), as well as checking the B’s all over the ice.
“We don’t get the respect we feel we deserve at times,” Richards told Russo. “But there’s only
one way you get the respect. It’s not given. You have to earn it.
Without a question, we have to earn our stripes.”