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Checking in on the Exiles

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The Devils are in a rebuilding phase. That means that we've seen a lot of faces depart over the last year. Most of those faces are worthy of spots on NHL teams. Have any of the moves been mistakes?

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Ray Shero has garnered a decent amount of praise for his moves. However, guys like Palmieri, Stempniak, and DSP were all noticed because they were brought here. As a GM, knowing who to let go is often just as important as knowing who to go get. Lou let some faces skip town towards the end of last year, and Shero has sent a whole lot more packing since hes arrived. In this article I take a look at what's become of some former team members. (Note: Active Players Only).

Jaromir Jagr

The Devils let Jaromir Jagr go last year a little before the deadline for a 2015 2nd rounder and a 2016 second rounder. Unfortunately we won't really be able to analyze that pick much since it got around more than Nick Young. It eventually landed with the Rangers via the Ducks via us. It's Ryan Gropp now.

Jaromir Jagr has had an absolutely incalculable effect on the Panthers. He is one of -- if not the -- biggest reason they climbed from a 38-win team in 2015 to a 1st seed contender. As JC Smith mentioned in his interview with John:

what has likely been the most important aspect of his resurgence is playing with two draft lottery picks in Sasha Barkov and Jonathan Huberdeau. Their speed, ability and (in Barkov's case) size, compliment Jagr perfectly and creates a "pick your poison" situation for opposition defenses as all three of them will score or play-make if given the slimmest opportunity. All that said, Jagr has had an undeniable major impact on the young Panthers and has amplified their ability greatly.

I take slight umbrage with the first half of this, particularly the use of the term "resurgence." He scored 67 in '14 and 47 in '15 so his current 59 is about where you'd expect. I give more credit to Jagr than the young guns in Florida, but JC makes a good point in that they compliment Jagr's style extremely well. I'm not sure if Lou was banking on Jagr being done sooner rather than later when he made this move or if it was just a simple cost-benefit analysis tool, but Jagr has immortal and will serve whatever team he plays with well until he is either retired or dead -- whichever comes first.

Scott Gomez

Ray Shero didn't bring back the Devils biggest playmaker coming into this year. Gomez went to St. Louis and turned a tryout contract into a true deal once again. Unfortunately, by the end of 2015 they decided they no longer had a place for him and waived him. He has since signed with Ottawa, but as the Senators begin to evaluate for next year, they have no need to see an old forward strutting about and Gomez's season might be over with them as well.

It's a shame to me because this is a guy that has genuine passing chops. I find it very difficult to believe that there are no teams that need a sound veteran that can create scoring chances for his linemates and contribute on the powerplay. Last year when he was turning back the clock with the Devils, he wrote a great piece for the Player's Tribune titled "Not Done". I can't help but agree with him. A guy who got 20 assists in 18 AHL games this season surely has value to someone.

Steve Bernier

Steve Bernier rounds out the exodus of last year's top scorers. Jagr, Gomez, and Bernier were all top 6 point producers on our team. That means that by the start of 2015-2016, we had ditched half of our statistical top 6 from 2014-2015. I wrote a Devil's Advocate for him in the middle of last season and maintained throughout the season that he was deserving of a contract. Bernier has 4 points in 20 games with the Islanders this year. Does that mean I was wrong? No. Would I tell you if it did? Of course not. But my point was that Bernier was producing on this team and at 31 years old, what makes him worse than a guy like Tyler Kennedy (29)? I get that Shero is familiar with TK, but shouldn't the on-ice familiarity with Bernier trump the irrelevant, yet ever-pervasive Penguin connection?

Still, it's clear from his time on the island that Steve Bernier is a fringe NHLer. I would have continued to critique this non-signing from Shero, until Devante Smith-Pelley happened. DSP has been collecting the cheap points in the front of the net that Bernier used to get, but he is doing it better and much younger. Touche, Shero. Touche.

Stefan Matteau

Speaking of DSP, we let a former 1st rounder of ours go to get him. I can't imagine anyone doesn't like this move right now. Matteau played 20 of the most inconsequential games I can remember a forward having for the Devils this year before moving on to be comparably irrelevant in 13 games with Montreal. He's making a very convincing case to not be a member of an NHL team.

Dainius Zubrus

Speaking of unnoticeable forwards, did you know that Dainius Zubrus played 74 games for us last year? Be honest, how many times do you remember seeing him play? I want someone to find out how many times Cangy said this guys name because 74 games seems impossible. He did end up latching on with San Jose and has played 46 games for them this year. Even in recent games he has been continuing to exist on the ice.

Eric Gelinas

And we enter the defensive section. Gelinas was sent to Colorado for a 2017 third round pick which is really scraping the bottom of the barrel for value. When you're rebuilding, these are the types of moves you can lives with. Gelinas was not working for us, still had a bit of value, so we traded him for the possibility of a future player that better fits what we're trying to do.

He has since played 6 pointless games for Colorado. I'm not saying that they were bad or anything, I don't make a habit of watching Avalanche games all that much. But he hasn't registered a point. He has 6 points in 40 games for both teams which is just too low for someone who is supposed to be a PP quarterback.

Marek Zidlicky

Zid was a polarizing player. Most people were happy with how much he could move the puck. But his defensive game could have been more cautious and we need to make a drinking game for everytime that guy takes a minor stick penalty.

Zid joined the Red Wings last year and made their already-good PP even better. He registered 11 points in 21 games for the Motor City, before getting signed by the Islanders in the offseason. He has played 49 games for them and has registered 15 points.

Would the 15 points make a difference for this Devils team? No. But we are supposed to be fast, attacking, and supportive, but we are woefully inept at gaining the zone and sustaining possession. That's where Zid helps. Also, as Bar Man mentioned in the comments to last weeks article, our right side after Adam Larsson this year has been just terrible. When Adam Larsson isn't on the ice, mayhem ensues.

2015-2016 Statistics for Devils Exiles (From War-on-Ice)

Even Strength

Name pos Team Gm G A P CF% PDO ZSO%Rel TOI/Gm
Steve.Bernier R NYI 20 1 3 4 47.63 103.53 -7.21 10.83
Eric.Gelinas D N.J/COL 40 0 2 2 50.98 98.3 23.82 12.11
Scott.Gomez C STL/OTT 32 1 3 4 45.05 97.07 18.63 9.75
Jaromir.Jagr R FLA 73 18 25 43 49.86 103.38 -1.77 13.62
Stefan.Matteau L N.J/MTL 31 1 1 2 46.31 92.24 4.51 9.98
Marek.Zidlicky D NYI 49 4 7 11 49.58 102.98 9.34 13.2
Dainius.Zubrus L S.J 46 2 2 4 49.21 100.74 -1.61 10.38

All Situations

Name pos Team Gm G A P CF% PDO ZSO%Rel TOI/Gm
Steve.Bernier R NYI 20 1 3 4 47.67 103.47 -6.95 11.15
Eric.Gelinas D N.J/COL 40 1 5 6 55.13 98.63 28.93 13.82
Scott.Gomez C STL/OTT 32 1 8 9 48.48 99.67 22.11 11.58
Jaromir.Jagr R FLA 73 25 33 58 56.48 102.15 13.61 16.9
Stefan.Matteau L N.J/MTL 31 1 1 2 47.86 91.68 8.01 10.53
Marek.Zidlicky D NYI 49 4 11 15 53.09 103.24 18.77 15.55
Dainius.Zubrus L S.J 46 2 4 6 46.28 102.92 -8.42 11.4

Concluding thoughts

If we had Jagr and Zidlicky right now, I feel like we might be in a playoff spot. I'm not saying we'd be a good team. I'm not even saying that I think it was a mistake letting them go. All I'm saying is that our biggest two deficiencies are forward depth, and defenders behind Larsson/Greene particularly on the right. But you don't want to be dependent on soon-to-be retirees if you're trying to rebuild. So I understand. Gelinas, Matteau, and Zubrus were all clearly the right decisions. Gomez and Bernier are tougher. It was probably right to let them both go, but again it'd be interesting to see if this team would benefit from having just a couple of these forwards to help keep the ship afloat after Cammalleri went down and Elias didn't return.

What do you guys think? You miss any of these guys? Am I forgetting anyone that should have been included in the list? How to you feel about the exporting half of the rebuild? What other guys should be added to this list next year? Leave your thoughts below.