by pcoffey on 07/01/13 at 12:14 PM ET
Amidst reports of more financial turmoil surrounding the New Jersey Devils, Lou Lamoriello sent a clarion call Sunday at the 2013 NHL Entry Draft with the trade that brought goalie Cory Schneider -- and his two-year contract worth approximately $8 million -- to the Devils.
“I’m not going to get into anything that has to do with our organization, but if you notice what we did today, I think that’s an indication that we’re pushing forward and we’ll be announcing some of our free-agent signings in the very near future.”
Sure sounds like the Devils are open for business, as Lamoriello made quite the splash at his own draft party, treating his fans to a double-barrel solution to questions about the team's goaltending. The answer being Schneider, both in the present and future.
One of the few projects Lamoriello had not been able to solve as the Grand Exalted Mystic Ruler of all things Devil was grooming an eventual successor to Brodeur, who at age 41, is going to face his hockey mortality sooner rather than later. Brodeur remains more than capable, but Father Time has now tossed more frequent injuries in his direction, so the days of playing 70-plus games per season are over.
Keep in mind that New Jersey suffered through two big slumps in 2013 that scuttled the Devils' playoff hopes, first an injury to Brodeur's shoulder that, coupled with Johan Hedberg's struggles and an anemic offense, yielded a long losing streak. The second was the almost complete power outage after Ilya Kovalchuk was lost to injury down the stretch of the regular season.
Next season, Schneider is in place and based on his impressive resume with the Vancouver Canucks, should be able to take the majority of games and do quite well, thank you. His addition also will allow coach Pete DeBoer to better monitor Brodeur's minutes and keep Brodeur among the more viable goalies in the NHL.
Some have grumbled about the cost of acquiring Schneider.
This was a no-brainer. Acquiring a young goalie still under contract and one with the resume of Schneider wasn't so much a stroke of genius for Lamoriello as it would have been an indictment of his hockey acumen had he failed to jump at the chance.
Plenty of other teams were trolling around Schneider, who was put on the block when the Canucks grew weary of trying to find a new home for Roberto Luongo and his contract. The asking price for Western conference teams for Schneider was said to be a first-round pick, a second rounder and a prospect, so surrendering the No. 9 selection and the solid prospect the pick would have produced wasn't as painful as you might imagine, since getting Schneider solved two very big problems for the Devils, namely to solidify the team's goaltending now and into the future.
And, the trade sent a message to prospective free agents that the Devils can be a viable destination. An infusion of cash is said to be on the way in the form of new ownership that should put Jeff Vanderbeek's financial struggles in the rear-view mirror once and for all. Lamoriello, in fact, alluded to being ready to get down to business in the free-agent marketplace when asked what he would do to solve the team's scoring woes now that a hotshot prospect wasn't riding out of the first round to solve that problem.
“Well, we have to look into free agency, there’s no question and get our players signed simultaneously," Lamoriello said. "But we’ll do whatever we can to make us better.”
He took a big step in that regard Sunday.
Goalie envy -- Down the New Jersey Turnpike a bit there were some frustrated Flyers fans Sunday who had heard of Schneider's availability and imagined the goalie would look good in Orange and Black. The fact he went to the rival Devils had sports talk radio spending some time on hockey for a change in Philly, and GM Paul Holmgren took some pointed criticism.
There was one hilarious caller who declared all the Flyers' problems solved because a video on the TSN telecast showed defenseman Sam Morin "knock out a guy in two punches!"
Morin has a lot of potential to be sure. You can't teach 6-foot-6, but let's be fair to the kid and knock off all these immediate comparisons to Chris Pronger, who was in Newark with the team for the Entry Draft.
By the time Pronger got to Philadelphia, he was a strong, seasoned adult who had been playing in the NHL for years. Morin still needs to pack on plenty of muscle and develop the defensive chops that coupled with Pronger's mean streak, made him such a difference maker.
Good to be Vinny -- Anyone who feels sorry for Vincent Lacavalier these days is misplacing his or her sympathy.
Rather it is good to be Vinny Lecavalier.
Yes, his time with the Tampa Bay Lightning is over, but the buyout from the Bolts is a tidy nest egg to sock away as he contemplates another contract with a new team for God knows how much more. Where do we sign up for a similar deal?
Speaking of Holmgren -- You had to think something was going to happen between the Flyers and Edmonton Oilers simply based on all the time Paul Holmgren and Craig MacTavish spent talking at Prudential Center Sunday.
The Oilers have their eye on defenseman Braydon Coburn and Holmgren could stand to shed some salary from a defense that is eating up a lot of his salary cap, especially after adding veteran Mark Streit to the mix.
But nothing happened Sunday, but who's to say the phones won't start working again today or tomorrow. Where there's a will there's a way.
Preds get their man -- You had to chuckle at the look of disbelief on the face of Nashville Predators GM David Poile when it became apparent the Predatory were going to be able to get Seth Jones with the fourth selection of the first round. It looked like a whole bunch of Christmas mornings rolled into one for the longtime GM, who now has some very nice pieces on his blue line.
Kid's a comedian -- Darnell Nurse, the nephew of former NFL quarterback Donovan McNab may have a future in comedy.
McNab was one of the top selections of his draft year, going with the second selection of the 1999 draft to the Philadelphia Eagles. But the pick was not a popular one and was booed unmercifully when announced.
McNab went on to a very strong career, but Nurse, a defenseman who went No. 8 to the Edmonton Oilers had the last laugh.
"Yeah, we're even," Nurse said. "Because he went higher than me but I didn't get booed at my draft. So we're even."
Ba-dum-bump! He'll be here all week!
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About Iced Coffey
Phil Coffey has covered the NHL since 1981, most recently as the Senior Editorial Director of NHL.com. He spent over 11 years there.