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Sorry Ray, But This is EXACTLY What Tanking Looks Like

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No one ever claims to be tanking. But after the deadline moves of a week ago and some of the decisions since then, I think it is clear that this team is tanking.

2015 NHL Draft - Round One Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Ray Shero has given us the normal GM speak about staying competitive booking it as getting the young fast guys in there — a clear nod to the “fast, attacking, supportive” team that he’s been trying to create since his arrival two offseasons ago. But it’s time to call a spade a spade, this is what tanking looks like.

The Trade for Dalton Prout

We gave up Kyle Quincey who has been a serviceable to good defender for us this season. In fact he had the highest PS (point shares) of any Devils defender this year. Some people have pointed out that Prout is a younger guy (5 years younger than Quincey) and so we might want to develop him. But he is a 6th rounder who has never put up double-digit points, averaged 19 minutes per game, or played 65 games. He is a low-floor, low-ceiling, throwaway.

The Trade of P.A. Parenteau

This one pissed me off. I’m not sure if there was an NHL-wide conspiracy to stop letting Shero get good deals or something, but P.A. is a good hockey player. I loved the move when we made it in the offseason. I was vindicated and satisfied by is performance over the course of the season. Then we go and give him up for a 6th rounder. Less than 16% of those players go on to play in 100 NHL games, and less than 10% go on to play 200. P.A. has played 483. The only way this is not tanking is if you think P.A. Parenteau is going to be useless within the next year or two. I find that extremely unlikely.

The New Roster

We put in 4 new players between the heartbreaking loss to the Rangers and the second post-deadline game (Bruins). John Moore returned, which is an expected move as he replaced traded Quincey. Then Greene’s father passed and we chose Dalton Prout to plug his spot in the lineup. I guess it’s not surprising, but he’s just not a good player. The other two moves, were Parenteau and Josefson being replaced by Blake Coleman and Kevin Rooney. Blake Coleman was a fine callup. A bit odd, but he’s 25 and was playing well. If you are now asking yourself, “Who the **** is Kevin Rooney?” the answer is: no one ... go about your life as if you don’t have this information. Kevin Rooney was undrafted after scoring 10 points in 38 games in his Senior year with Providence College. He then went on to continue to underwhelm, scoring 17 points in 57 games with Albany on an ATO.

You might be thinking — well we want to put in a young guy and see what he can do. Well we have 5 guys who are forwards, under 24, currently with AHL, and have more scoring ability. Elite Prospects shows them here. Quenneville, Kujawinski, and Mandat have all played center, Pietila is a winger, but when you’re scraping the bottom of the barrel does that really matter?

So not only did they call up a young guy, but they called up a BAD young guy.

Conclusion

To me, we are tanking. We are trading away commodities for cents on the dollar, calling up and playing guys with no futures (Prout, Rooney), and the players see to recognize it by the effort they’re putting out on the ice. By the way, I’m glad we are. It’s time we get a draft pick high enough to reflect how poor a team we are putting on the ice. I even wrote about it two weeks ago.

What do you think? The Devils have free-fallen from a fringe playoff team to the 3rd worst team in the NHL with a shot at becoming the 2nd. Is that a coincidence? Are you happy about it long-term? Would you call this tanking? Leave comments below.

*EDIT: An earlier version of this article mentioned 4-4-1 protection. I’ve decided to remove it because it would involve some unethical, borderline-conspiracy behavior from the Devils and Damon Severson. Also I rephrased Andy Greenes absence to clarify it was due to his father’s passing.