In a surprising roster move reported by Andrew Gross at The Record, the New Jersey Devils have sent Yohann Auvitu to Albany(AHL) and recalled forward Luke Gazdic. Auvitu, who has provided offense and a semblance of a transition game, was splitting time with Jon Merrill upon Merrill’s return from injury and seemed to be the odd man out as the only waiver-exempt defenseman on the team.
The roster following this move has 15 forwards, and 6 defenseman, meaning they expect Merrill to get in full-time and will have to sit a good number forwards to get Gazdic into the line-up.
I’m not a big fan and I don’t really think many fans are going to like this either. This move seems to be largely reactionary and serves as a way to force grit into the lineup with Gazdic. With Auvitu’s re-assignment, it secures Merrill a spot on the team and likely the third pairing. Although Auvitu had slowed in recent weeks, his somewhat questionable defense, could be overlooked by his offensive skill and the value he adds to getting out of the zone. However, with the team giving up seemingly astronomical goal totals, the organization felt Merrill would best fit a defensive role, one he has struggled in the last few seasons.
The corresponding roster move was recalling forward Luke Gazdic. Gazdic has been less than spectacular at an AHL level, has been equally so in the NHL. This move seems to be sending a message to the team that they need to be grittier and tougher to play against. Gazdic has compiled 2 assists in Albany this season in addition to 19 penalty minutes in only 13 games.
Do you think this addresses issues with the team? Will Gazdic provide the spark the team needs? Will the Devil’s miss Auvitu’s contributions? Let us know your thoughts and as always, thank you for reading.