For all of the talk, chatter, concern, anger, emotion, and worry over whether Martin Brodeur would stay as a member of the New Jersey Devils, it is all now put to rest. Yes, he's still a Devil. The 41-year goaltender with an overall save percentage of 89.9% in 30 games was not desirable enough for another team to give the Devils something for him. I am shocked as you are.
Over the last 48 hours, there have plenty of trades across the National Hockey League. The NHL Trade Deadline concluded today and the Devils have only made one move. They obviously did not trade Brodeur. They also did not trade one of the many defensemen they have on the roster and in the system. Whatever player fans talked themselves into hoping would be moved was not moved. The Devils made one trade: they acquired Tuomo Ruutu from the Carolina Hurricanes in exchange for Andrei Loktionov. That was it, so
As I spelled out in my reaction post to the trade, I don't believe the Devils really addressed their main need. They did get a top-nine winger. They did not add much scoring. Lou is correct that Ruutu put up 26 goals before it, per this article by Rich Chere. That was also five seasons ago and therefore irrelevant today. The more I think about it, Ruutu's best case scenario may be - and I'm guessing here - a meaner version of Dainus Zubrus. That is, someone who is useful and has talent but just isn't all that productive of a player for one reason or another. Making me feel slightly better is the news - from Tom Gulitti in this case - that Carolina has retained some of Ruutu's salary. But I don't think the team's need for more points was really addressed. They did not need grit, they need points.
However, what makes this day more disappointing was that this was the only move - and perhaps this was going to be it. I was always skeptical that someone would try to trade for Brodeur. Unpopular defensemen Bryce Salvador and Anton Volchenov were never going to be moved. The younger defensemen that could have been moved possibly were not available except for just the "right" deal. The Devils don't have a first round pick this year, which made moving the second that much harder. The Devils simply didn't have a lot of assets to make a big deal that you and I had some desire of seeing.
It's even questionable whether there were that many scorers available. Martin St. Louis only wanted to go to New York. Who knew what the asking price was for Ryan Kesler, who remains with Vancouver. Thomas Vanek has produced this season and it's a legitimate question why the Devils didn't try a second rounder and a prospect like Montreal did. Then again, perhaps Garth Snow wasn't willing to do that with a team in his division. Besides, the move reeked of desperation to move him for something so it's possible Montreal was just on the phone at the right time. Ales Hemsky was had for cheap by Ottawa but Hemsky's production certainly isn't impressive as he once was. Dustin Penner would have been a good get in retrospect. But it wasn't like there was a plethora of players really available. Especially for what little the Devils had to truly offer.
Still, I have this feeling that they could have done more. It's certainly not a bad team but they needed more offense to really get over the top. The Devils are banking on the current group of skaters plus Ruutu can provide more scoring. Michael Ryder and Ruutu need to break their goalless streaks in the worst way - and not go back on another one. Jaromir Jagr, Patrik Elias, Adam Henrique, and Travis Zajac need to keep putting up points. Ryane Clowe and Damien Brunner also need to be more regular producers. The defense and depth players need to chip in. Is it possible? Absolutely. We saw it in three of their last four games. But that requires continued attacking, good decisions with the puck, and plenty of fortune going their way. We've seen the first two but without the third.
I began with Brodeur so I'll close my Devils-specific thoughts with him. I hope he's happy he got all of the attention in the last 48 hours. He received bigger than usual ovations at the Rock on Tuesday night. He has been a topic of discussion in the larger hockey media recently. Whether he was willing to move or not is now moot, he's here for the rest of the season. If DeBoer, Lou, and the rest of the coaches and executives are smart, they will make it very clear to him that he's #2. With the goaltending options being someone with a 91.9% overall save percentage and a 89.9% save percentage, the one with the lesser number should not be starting as many games as the one with the larger number. The Devils acted this way throughout January and February when Cory Schneider got the vast majority of starts. They cannot deviate now if they are truly serious about making the playoffs. Brodeur got his attention, now he needs to accept reality and wear a nice, team-provided baseball cap on the bench more often than a mask. That's what I want to see. I have a feeling I'm going to be let down.
Going back to the larger trade deadline, I do feel more down on the Devils considering the other moves made today. Our Hated Rivals obtaining Martin St. Louis is a big problem. They may have mortgaged some of the future to do it. Yet, their big need was with scoring and they got Tampa Bay's top scorer. It's no question he's a lot better than Ryan Callahan. That's a big win even if it is in the short term. They should be seen as a contending team in the East and could very well sew up that second playoff spot in the Metropolitan. On top of that, they got additional help on defense by way of Raphel Diaz. They had a good day and that's never good to see as a Devils fan. They, along with most of the Metropolitan, should want them to suffer and keep the playoff picture more open.
Elsewhere, Detroit did pick up David Legwand to help out their depleted core of centers. If he fits in well, then the Red Wings will remain a challenge. While Washington did not address their big need on defense. They did get Dustin Penner for cheap. Penner has been a solid offensive player this season and that makes the Capitals a bit more difficult to stop. They dumped Martin Erat and then essentially flipped Rostislav Klesla (a defenseman) and Michel Neuvirth for Jaroslav Halak, who could be useful. Columbus made some space by shipping Marian Gaborik out to Los Angeles and added some depth on defense by rescuing Nick Schultz from Edmonton. Thankfully, Philadelphia only made two moves. After a rather laughable one to get Andrew MaDconald from the Isles, they got a pick for Andrej Meszaroes so it may end up being a wash. So the teams the Devils are chasing were active but not to a point where they are significantly worse and at best got a little better. Thankfully, other than the Rangers, I believe only Pittsburgh really got much better today. By adding some needed depth forwards in Marcel Goc and Lee Stempniak. But the Pens were never a team the Devils are chasing.
In any case, are the Devils really better off now than they were at the start of the day? At best, maybe. At worst, no. The fact it's a question suggests against it. But they aren't that much worse off either. They did get a winger; but not really the kind that I think they need. So ends another NHL Trade Deadline day. Will the Devils have the quality to make that playoff push? Can Ruutu help out enough? Are you glad Brodeur stays a Devil for this season? What do you think of the other deals made today? Please leave your answers and other comments about the trade deadline in the comments. Thanks to everyone who commented in the open thread and thank you for reading.