This seemed to work pretty well last week, so let's take a look at ten more topics revolving around our New Jersey Devils currently,
1.) Joe Blandisi Returned to Albany
Honestly, I was hoping the Devils would have waived a few other players before sending Blandisi back to the A, but we'll get to that later. I suppose sending the player who doesn't require waivers down makes sense in terms of not losing any assets, though I question the value of said assets.
Blandisi didn't look to bad in his first few NHL games, and I think if there wasn't a logjam of warm bodies requiring waivers to be sent down coupled with actual NHL players ready to come off of injured reserve, he would have gotten an extended look. He'll be back in New Jersey at some point; while the idea might be to let him get a year in playing in the minors, injuries may strike again, and he would definitely be first on my list to come back as a fill in.
2.) Brian O'Neill Waived
Chris wrote a brief article when this move was made yesterday, and I have to say while it was expected, I was a bit disappointed. It's been a while since the Devils have found a "diamond in the rough" forward so to speak, and I was hoping O'Neill could be it.
Sadly 2 assists in 22 games and a number of healthy scratches just doesn't cut the mustard on a team where finding secondary scoring needs to be a priority right now. I don't think any team will claim him with his performance here; he should provide a nice boost for the farm team along with Blandisi.
3.) Two for Tlusty
If we count the days in between including time he was injured, there were 66 days in between Jiri Tlusty's first and second goals this season. I honestly want to believe that he was still hurt during the games played in between his two injury stints, because he looked much better Tuesday against Buffalo than he has for most of the season.
With the lack of quality scorers on this team, if Tlusty can start contributing, the Devils could have a legitimate top 6 upon Travis Zajac's return; right now it's a top 5 searching for a final piece. Jiri rediscovering his scoring touch would also allow the Devils to focus on fixing what is still a faltering bottom 6.
4.) Waive Everybody!
In all honesty, I would not care at this point if the Devils sent Sergei Kalinin to the AHL and waived every bottom 6 player on this team with the exceptions of Tyler Kennedy, Jacob Josefson and Patrik Elias. Tuomo Ruutu in the past couple of seasons has still looked like a competent bottom 6 player, and could provide some energy, defense and a bit of scoring as well, so he already replaces one of the warm bodies.
Jordin Tootoo has been flat out bad this season as has Stephen Gionta; the only reason I keep Josefson over Gionta is Jake is better at draws and has skill in the shootout. Stefan Matteau despite his draft position hasn't shown much at the AHL level, let alone the NHL. Bobby Farnham could also be waived upon his return from the IR, but I'd rather keep him as the 13th forward for rivalry games; he's definitely not an every game player.
The Devils would need a center (preferably 3rd line if Josefson gets bumped down) and a right wing (4th line; Kennedy hasn't looked awful on the 3rd) to complete their lines even with Ruutu's return. They could look to fill them internally (paging Mr. Blandisi back to New Jersey) or see if there are cheap options externally. At this point, as I've said before, it's worth trying a few new parts, because the existing ones just aren't working.
Update: Tom Gulitti stated on his Twitter that Ruutu says he will play tonight.
5.) Eric Gelinas or Jon Merrill?
Not so much a question of preference here as it is a question as to who should be in the lineup on the third pairing regularly. After the last couple of games that Gelinas had and Merrill's awful game in Buffalo, I think Eric is the better option at this point. John wrote in his review of the Buffalo game that it's hard to see what Merrill brings to the table, and I couldn't agree more right now. Merrill has talent, but either something's not right this season, or he doesn't fit Hynes' system.
Speaking of bringing things to the table, I know he's trying to simplify his game at this point, but Gelinas needs to start using his skills that brought him to the big show in the first place, namely The Truth. If the Devils want to remain competitive (and I feel like a broken record at this point) they need secondary scoring and Gelly's slapper can bring it. TG says that Eric will be the healthy scratch on defense again tonight, and I can not agree with that right now.
6.) Severson Scores!
The drought is over for Damon Severson; it may have taken the same amount of games as the number he wears, but the Devils finally got a goal from the player who leads the defense in points. If there's one defender who I can't complain about in terms of production, it's definitely Severson (okay and his partner John Moore as well) right now. The fact that those two are our next highest scorers after our Top 5 not only makes you thankful for their production, but also helps you realize just how much of a mess the bottom 6 is. Let's hope these two keep it up!
7.) Patty Power
Patrik Elias has not been the plug people were anticipating him being upon his return; while his scoring pace is down from the Elias we know and love, he's still produced points at a better clip in 11 games than many of the other forwards on this team who have been playing all season.
We could use some third line scoring, and if there's any candidate for that, it's Patty. He's only connected once, but has taken a mere 15 shots during the 11 games he's appeared in. A few more shots per game from Patrik and we could see his name in the goal column more often.
8.) Adam Henrique Appreciation
Rico came back with a vengeance against Buffalo, getting the secondary assist on Lee Stempniak's goal and winning 48% of his draws. While we'd love to see him above 50%, 48% is still better than what his replacements were doing. The team went 24/54 in total on the night (44%) and while Adam being back will be awesome for putting points on the board, we still need one more guy to win those tough faceoffs and boost the team...
9.) Return of the Zajac?
Back to TG from this morning again, his Fire and Ice blog states that Zajac is skating with the team today. it's refreshing to have a coach that offers accurate estimates as Hynes did when he stated that Zajac would not play against Florida but could be back for the weekend.
Personally I'd love to have Travis back in the lineup on Saturday; the Ducks have some good players that Zajac would be helpful in containing, and the boost in the circle wouldn't hurt either.
10.) December Predictions Coming True?
I wrote a couple of weeks ago about the Devils needing a strong December (and some help in the standings) to remain competitive and in the hunt for a playoff berth. While I was a bit off with the amount of points they would pick up after playing the Colorado Avalanche (I wanted 4, they got 3), they squeezed the 5 points out of 6 that I said they would need from the next week.
They also lost this past Sunday to the Islanders as I thought they might, though I was hoping it wouldn't have been the massacre it was; they also beat Buffalo like they needed to, and hopefully they can continue to follow my script and beat Florida tonight. I would also like to see them abuse Anaheim on Saturday as the Ducks don't deserve a W as they are going through their usual pattern of a losing season every 3-4 years during the Getzlaf/Perry era; makes you wonder if they tank on purpose every few seasons to keep the prospect pool fresh...
I leave you on that conspiracy theory and welcome your thoughts/opinions on any of the 10 topics above. Thanks as always for reading and let's go Devils!