Being that our New Jersey Devils are in the midst of a rebuild, it’s understandable to see an unpolished product being sent out on the ice on many nights. The team has a couple of stopgap options, some young players that are being given trial runs, and yet at the same time, I still feel there is some fat on this roster that can be trimmed. I’m not here to talk about players I’ve already discussed to death, such as Jon Merrill (who has been playing much better lately) John Moore, and Jacob Josefson. No, today is going to be other players that I would rather not see return for one reason or another next season.
The Forgettable Five
Okay, let’s start with the biggest fish on the list as well as probably the most controversial entry; I know Cam is a streaky scorer, and not exactly the best two way player on the team, but his effort level as a whole this season has been Edmonton Line Change bad. If you solely look at his point totals, you would think he’s having an okay season on a bad team with 23 points in 40 games. The issue at hand is that his effort and decision making are part of why the team is not playing well.
How many times this season have we seen Mike make a pass nowhere near his intended target? How many times have we seen him stick-handle into trouble, lose the puck, and have play go the other way? He doesn’t seem to put in the same effort backchecking as say a Travis Zajac would, and for someone who is wearing a letter and supposed to be a leader on this team, that is unacceptable.
Cammalleri has a No Trade Clause in his contract, which makes it quite a bit harder to move on from him. If Ray Shero can find a contender willing to take on the remainder of his contract (even if we have to retain a small percentage), then I think you have to look at possibly pulling the trigger. That, or leaving Cam exposed for the expansion draft and hoping Las Vegas decides they need a scoring winger.
While I enjoyed his play last season, I’m over the DSP experiment now. While he certainly brings more to the table than say Luke Gazdic, Devante just has not brought enough of anything to the team this season, with the possible exception of being an effective penalty killer. Even in a bottom 6 role, I expected more than 7 points with more than half a season played.
DSP is also not the fastest or most skilled player, and it seems as though some of our youngsters are already surpassing him on the depth chart. At this point, I would not be surprised if his only purpose on the team is to be a body to meet the expansion draft requirements.
Okay, I know I’ve harped on this one before, but after watching him concede the puck which led to Minnesota’s first goal the other night, it’s either get rid of him or find a way to bump him to the 3rd pairing with no PK time. I know our PK is tied for 10th in the league, but I truly feel we are succeeding at killing penalties in spite of Lovejoy, rather than because of him!
He brings virtually nothing to the table offensively, and his defense and skating are suspect at best. He, much like Cammalleri, also makes boneheaded decisions, such as pinching at the wrong moment, leading to an odd man rush in the other direction. I understand defenders pinching when they have offensive skills, but again that’s not Lovejoy’s forte.
With Severson and Santini (who has stabilized the team in limited action) already playing on the right side, Lovejoy should already be a 3rd pairing guy; with the possibility for the team to get better in the summer, he’s another player I’d like to see left available for Vegas.
Another bottom 6 guy whose spot could be better spent at this point; Kalinin is a solid enough defensive player, but last season and the part of this season so far have shown that we need to overhaul lines 3 and 4 with players who can contribute more offensively.
Kalinin seems to shine on the penalty kill, but when the team is healthy, Zajac, Adam Henrique, Kyle Palmieri and Vernon Fiddler can do that job well enough. Sergey has never been a prolific scorer even before coming over to the NHL, and unfortunately the team could use more of an offensive punch. I wouldn’t mind keeping Kalinin in Albany and having him called up if injuries strike, but again, he’s someone that is seemingly being passed by youth on the depth chart.
Please tell me that you saw this one coming; is any Devils fan a proponent of this guy? He plays limited minutes, does nothing well but punch, and really if we’re trying to role 4 lines every night, then he shouldn’t even be the extra because if injury strikes in warm-ups, then he’s in. Taylor Hall connection or not, get this guy out of New Jersey.
I’d like to hear from our fellow Devils fans as to which players you want gone for next season one way or another; it doesn’t have to be 5, and feel free to mention my exemptions from the start of the article if they’re at the top of your list. Anyone I didn’t mention that you want out? Anyone I mentioned that you think I’ve missed the contributions of who should still be here next year? Leave your thoughts below and thanks as always for reading!