Tom Gulitti is reporting that Shanahan has signed a 1 year, $800,000 contract with the New Jersey Devils. Given the timing of the deal, Shanahan will make about half of that amount. Gulitti thinks Shanahan will join the team in Columbus, but he will not play that night. And he probably won't until he gets a few practices in, at least.
I was surprised when the deal was announced four days ago. Steve Lepore rounded up much of the Devils reactions across the blogs and it was mixed then. After thinking about it for a few days and seeing that the contract is, indeed, only for one year and a small amount of money, I'm thinking this is a good, low-risk move.
I feel that this would be the worst case scenario, short of injury : Shanahan does not help the special teams, he's too slow to keep up with the rest of the team, he doesn't contribute all that much, and so he's benched in favor of another forward. While that's not great, what do the Devils really lose? They have plenty of players who can play on the fourth line, and the team has had fully capable, though not great, special teams units all season. All at a cost of, what, less than a half of a million dollars? It's a lot like Igor Larionov, who did very poorly in New Jersey, but it wasn't a major issue for the rest of the team. If Shanahan falters or gets hurt, I don't see it wrecking this year's team - given how successful they've been so far. Sutter will just turn back to his original lineups and all would likely be restored. That's the worst case scenario I can think of and it's not that big of a risk, really.
Personally, I see Shanahan getting time on the secondary penalty killing and power play units to give them a boost and another weapon. They haven't been consistently good and Shanahan can definitely help there. He can add some skill and more of an offensive edge to a fourth line, giving Sutter more options as to what do with that last line. If he clicks with Holik and/or Rupp, that would really boost the overall attack. Of course, you can't ignore all of that experience he brings into the locker room. What's also important about this signing is that this is not at all like Vancouver signing Sundin, where he'll be expected to be the man. From Gulitti, Lou expects him to be an "full time player," but I don't think he's expecting him to be a big, impact player. He just has to contribute here and there for a few minutes each night. He did it last year with the Rangers, with 23 goals and 23 assists in 73 games. I don't see why he wouldn't have something left in the proverbial tank for New Jersey.
Now here are two rather important questions that I'd like to hear your opinions on:
1) Who do the Devils sit in favor of Shanahan? Right now, I'd say Pandolfo, who is having a poor season and has been invisible, especially as of late. Mike Rupp may not be productive either, but he's physical, brings character to the ice, and gives a good effort.
2) When, not if, the Devils do make a trade, who do the Devils move? There's been much hay raised about what number Shanahan will wear (source: Chere): and I have a suspicion that #14 could be made available by the end of February. If Shanahan starts off real well, then it could be sooner.
Have your say and I hope Shanahan's second time as a Devil will be as successful for him as some other seasons where he primarily wore red.