The Devils made a pair of moves Tuesday. Both were great news to me and both were also surprising. The fact that Scott Wedgewood cleared waivers, to me, was a very pleasant surprise. I thought that Wedge proved last season that he is a capable backup in the NHL. Had he won the job, I would have been confident in his ability to fill in spot starts for Cory Schneider, and even take over as starter for small segments of time if Cory gets injured. The fact that no one else wanted him was a welcome surprise to me as we now get to let him carry Albany and see what he does with that responsibility. It leaves us with PTO-surprise Anders Lindback and incumbent Keith Kinkaid, the latter being the presumed favorite as Lindback would need to be offered a contract still.
But, the more consequential move is the Devils claiming P.A. Parenteau off waivers from the Islanders.
Who is P.A. Parenteau and how did we get him?
You may have heard of PA, because he’s pretty good, and you may be wondering if this is another case of the Devils taking a flyer on an aging forward past his prime.
That’s not what happened here.
Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau scored 20 goals and 41 points last season on an absolutely terrible Maple Leafs team which was good for 2nd on the team behind only Nazem Kadri. Based on Point Shares (a catch-all statistic modeled after WAR) he was the best forward on the team. He was also one of their better possession players finishing with a 4.6 CorsiRel% (the teams shot attempted for/against ratio was 4.6% better with him on the ice).
So maybe he was good last year but father time got to him and he’s not good anymore. Well, if that’s the case, then it fooled the Islanders’ faithful as well. Our friends over at Lighthouse Hockey seemed shocked by the news. So why again did this happen?
The Islanders have a lot of really good young players. That’s the answer. The Islanders, through a lot of maneuvering, had 2 first-round picks in 2015 and spent them both on forwards Mathew Barzal and Anthony Beauvillier. They both impressed enough in camp to earn spots on the roster. Despite really good young players like Barzal, Beauvillier, Lee and Strome, and no doubters like Tavares, Ladd, Chimera, It is surprising to most people involved that the guy that seemed poised to flank Tavares in the preseason would just be cut outright. But once it happened, our relatively high waiver position (previous season point total determines what claimer gets a player) put us in a good spot to sweep him up. So we got him. And what does that mean for us.
Where does P.A. fit?
Last year, Parenteau would have been the 4th best forward on the Devils according to point total (behind Palms, Rico, Zajac), the 5th best in Point Shares (Palms, Rico, Cam, and Stemper), the 3rd best on relative Corsi (Josefson and Kennedy). The only big difference on this team is that Hall has replaced Stemper. So, while the general consensus has been that he will provide scoring depth in the bottom 6, I’m not sure I would immediately write off the possibility of him seeing time in the top 6 or even the top line.
The Devils also named their roster of 23 to open the season, but it includes a LOT of blatant procrastination. Quincey has been placed on IR despite being quoted as saying “I’m definitely back to 100%. I could play right now” and Kalinin is on IR due to “illness.” This is in addition to Gazdic and Jon Merrill who were already on IR with actual injuries.
Beau Bennett was given a shot at a 1st line role. He wasn’t impressive enough so they gave a shot to DSP. DSP spent time on the top line, but that’s not his profile. He can occasionally complement top line players nicely, but he is a stocky, net-driver, and board-battler so seems like more of a top line plug-in than a sustainable top line presence due to his merp defensive game and his meh open-ice and on-puck talent. So that leaves the top line as a little bit of a question. As I mentioned before, P.A. was playing with Tavares on the first line in preseason. That could have been written off as more due to chemistry than quality. But with Toronto, he played with Bozak way more than anyone else which places him as their top line winger.
MY POINT IS...
This guy can absolutely play on a top line. Now, on our particular top line, I don’t know if he fits very well because he also might not have the skates to keep up with Hall and Rico. We might see some shifting around in those top lines with this move. We have clear 4th line guys (Fiddler, Wood, Gazdic-IR), but then a group of guys that don’t fit the “checking line” mold, but are NHL forwards that are not in our top 9 (Josefson, Speers, Kalinin-IR) and I think DSP gets added to that chunk.
There are so many moving pieces, but after tweaking a lot, I have arrived comfortably at this setup.
Hall - Henrique - Parenteau/Bennett
Cammalleri - Zajac - Palmieri
Boucher - Zacha - Parenteau/Bennett
Josefson - Fiddler - Smith-Pelly
I think that Hall-Henrique is a lock and they are going to elevate whoever the third guy is. Depending on the game plan we can plug in a net-crasher (DSP), an extra scorer (PA), or a younger guy that can keep up (Bennett). I love that flexibility. I also love what that does to our top 3 lines which seem to all be able to produce points. And the 4th line gets a board-battler in DSP, a good faceoff guy in Fiddler, and a great defensive player in Josefson that should make them an extremely effective unit.
You guys contributed a lot of thoughts in the comments section to the news story, so with this info, are your minds changed at all? Do you think that PA slots into the 1st line? 2nd line? 3rd line? Who loses the job? Which 12 guys play the most games? Are you adding this to the list of Shero steals already?
Let me know what you guys think!