It’s tricky. Working the numbers, place the bet and watch your pick head into the turn toward the finish line. That’s the race Lou Lamoriello ran with Ilya Kovalchuk. Just over the one-year anniversary of the controversial signing of Ilya Kovalchuk, the rejection of the deal by the NHL and the fines slapped on the hand and wallet of Devils GM/Preident Lou Lamoriello didn’t discourage in his efforts. Lou is hard at work this summer placing bets for the 2011-12 season. The race in the Atlantic Division will be a tough ride with Jagr in Philly, Richards in NYC and the Pens if Crosby return.
Devils fans can breathe a sign of relief at the signing of high-scoring left wing Zach Parise to a one-year-contract worth $6 million. Avoiding arbitration, the Devils secured their franchise player making room under the salary cap by shipping off Brian Rolston. Parise is the race horse the Devils GM had to sign.
Brian Rolston waived his no-trade clause to go to the Islanders, and in turn, the Devils pick up Trent Hunter. The forward spent nine seasons with the Islanders, compiling 99 goals and 229 points in 459 NHL games, but played just 17 games last season, scoring one goal, because of a torn knee ligament. The advantage in all of this is Hunter is a competitive third/fourth liner who is a two-way player, smart defensively and an option on the penalty-kill unit. Hunter is seen as a good fit for the Devils for his “smart, not flashy” style, but has bee plagued with injuries.
Coaching took a turn when Jacques Lamiere voiced he would not return for another season bail out, so the Devils went and grabbed former Florida Panthers coach Peter DeBoer, who was fired in April for failing to take the cats into the postseason. But Lou saw something in the 43-year old coach. The two have been chatting for the past few months. Lamoriello determined DeBoer to be “one of the best young coaches in the business, and his three seasons with the Panthers only made him a better coach.”
Can devildom reach its full potential or suffer in purgatory for the year? Hockey pundits have given New Jersey an average rating with a low playoff seed in the Atlantic Division. Top-rated teams in that division will be tough to race against, notably the New York Rangers who have made some splash this offseason. The Devils are building and the New Jersey fans will continue to believe in Lou because he has their best hockey interests at heart according to his PR staff, a.k.a Lou Lamoriello.