Gomez Invited To Devils Camp, But Does He Have a Spot?

By Brian Bobal,

 

Can Scott Gomez earn a spot on an overcrowded Devils offense?

Can Scott Gomez earn a spot on an overcrowded Devils offense?

For the last seven seasons, anytime Scott Gomez has played the puck in New Jersey, he has dealt with a chorus of boos raining down from the fans at the Prudential Center. Come October, he will get a chance to turn the boos back into cheers.

On Wednesday, Devils GM Lou Lamoriello announced that the 34-year-old Alaska native will attend camp on a tryout basis. This tryout will be Gomez’s second stint with the Devils, something that has happened a lot recently.

Over the years, the Devils have welcomed back a lot of their former players including Scott Clemmensen, Steve Sullivan, Jason Arnott, Bobby Holik, Petr Sykora, Brian Rolston, Brendan Shanahan, Alexander Mogily, Vladimir Malakhov, Jim Dowd, and Cam Janssen. It was only a matter of time before Gomez made his way back to New Jersey. But the move is a difficult one to understand. Continue reading →

Can The Rangers Win The Metropolitan Division Next Season?

By Brian Bobal

Can the Rangers succeed again? (Photo by Andy Marlin/USA Today Sports)

Can the Rangers succeed again? (Photo by Andy Marlin/USA Today Sports)

The Rangers turned heads, but not in a good way, at the start of last season as they won just three of their first 10 games. Henrik Lundqvist did not look like his regular self and the team took a while to adjust to Alain Vigneault’s new style.

Once the Rangers got acclimated to Vigneault, they became one of the better teams in the Eastern Conference. Because of their poor start, they weren’t able to catch the Penguins, who won the division by 13 points, but they were a very hot team heading into the playoffs. This led them on a journey past Philadelphia, past Pittsburgh after an epic comeback from a 3-1 series hole, past the Montreal Canadiens, and ultimately to their first Stanley Cup Final since 1994. Continue reading →

What’s next for Dan Bylsma and the Penguins

By Brian Bobal

Time for a culture change in Pittsburgh. (Photo by Getty Images)

Time for a culture change in Pittsburgh. (Photo by Getty Images)

In 2009, he was hired to replace Michel Therrien and later that spring, the Penguins won their first Stanley Cup since 1992. In 2011, he became the first Pittsburgh coach to win the Jack Adams Award. Now, after blowing a 3-1 series lead for the second time in four seasons something has to change.

This loss to the New York Rangers marks the fifth consecutive playoff season where the Penguins lost to a lower ranked opponent, making each loss increasingly difficult to take.

Fingers will be pointed all around the organization from the general manager, to Sidney Crosby only scoring one goal in 13 games, and even to Marc-Andre Fleury, but the main reason comes down to coaching. Continue reading →

Game One Proves Red Wings are a Dangerous Threat

By Brian Bobal

The Red Wings are the dark horses of the East.

The Red Wings are the dark horses of the East. (Photo by Greg M. Cooper / USA Today Sports)

After an injury plagued season, the Red Wings were able to clinch a playoff berth for the 23rd consecutive season, the longest streak in the NHL. Their first round opponent? The President’s Trophy winning Boston Bruins.

Describing the Red Wings’ season as injury plagued would be a huge understatement. They had the second most man games lost in the league behind the Pittsburgh Penguins. Darren Helm missed 40 games. Pavel Datsyuk, arguably the best two-way forward in the NHL, missed 37 games. Henrik Zetterberg has missed 37 regular season games and will not return to the Wings’ until very late in the first round at the very earliest.

The fact that the Wings were able to lock up a playoff spot with the laundry list of injuries they had is remarkable. Continue reading →

The Implosion of the Edmonton Oilers

By Brian Bobal

The Flames torched the Oilers 8-1 on Saturday. (Photo by Bruce Edwards/Edmonton Journal)

The Flames torched the Oilers 8-1 on Saturday. (Photo by Bruce Edwards/Edmonton Journal)

It’s hard to believe that eight years ago, the Edmonton Oilers were one win away from winning the Stanley Cup as they fell to the Carolina Hurricanes 3-1 in the decisive seventh game. Since that defeat in 2006, they have not made the playoffs. In fact, if they stay in their current position, they will have finished last in the Western Conference three times in the last five seasons. Yet, the rebuild continues.

It’s surprising that a team with a storied history such as theirs can be a complete mess. They have stockpiled top pick after top pick and they still show no signs of crawling out of the depths of the NHL. No event can describe the frustration of both the team and it’s fans than the events that took place in their game against the Calgary Flames on March 22.

Tied at one under five minutes into the second period, the Flames lit the lamp four times in a span of 3:05. They went on to add three more in an 8-1 rout in Edmonton. The score wasn’t the only thing that went apart in the game.

Continue reading →

Atlantic Division Deadline Recap

By Brian Bobal

Here’s a look at what moves teams in the Atlantic Division made in the week before yesterday’s deadline.

Boston Bruins

Meszaros will help bolster the Bruins' defense. (Photo by Paul Bereswill / Getty Images)

Meszaros will help bolster the Bruins’ defense. (Photo by Paul Bereswill / Getty Images)

Acquisitions: Andrej Meszaros, Blake Parlett

Departures: Carter Camper, 2014 3rd-round pick

Outlook: The Bruins went into the deadline looking to boost their blueline after Dennis Seidenberg’s injury. Meszaros is a player that will help them do that. While he won’t replace Seidenberg, he will help give them some depth and a veteran presence to play along with youngsters on defense Torey Krug, Matt Bartkowski, and Dougie Hamilton, to name a few.

Grade: B Continue reading →

NHL Modifies Penalty to Kovalchuk Contract

By Brian Bobal

Outside of one season, Kovalchuk's four season stint with the Devils was a disaster. (Photo by Bruce Bennett / Getty Images)

Kovalchuk’s four season stint with the Devils was a disaster, except for their run to the Cup Final in 2012. (Photo by Bruce Bennett / Getty Images)

On Thursday, the NHL announced that it has modified the sanctions it placed on the Devils for signing superstar Ilya Kovalchuk in the summer of 2010.

When Kovalchuk became a free agent in July of 2010, the Devils signed him to a 17-year $102 million contract, which would’ve been the longest contract in NHL history, only to have the NHL nullify it, claiming it circumvented the salary cap.

The NHLPA filed a grievance and the dilemma dragged on until an independent arbiter ruled in favor of the NHL.

The NHL then went on to slap the Devils organization with a $3 million dollar fine, docked them a 3rd round draft pick in 2011, and, worst of all, a 1st round draft pick. The Devils had an option to forfeit their 1st round pick in one of the four drafts after the fine was dealt.

The Devils used their 1st round pick in 2011, which was the 4th overall selection, to draft Adam Larsson. The following year the Devils went all the way to the Stanley Cup Final, and eventually earned the 29th overall pick. Many people thought it would be best for the Devils to forfeit their 1st round pick that summer, but Lou Lamoriello felt it was better to draft Stefan Matteau.

In the summer of 2013, the draft was held at the Prudential Center in front of the Devils’ faithful. Since the Devils missed the playoffs in the lockout-shortened season prior, they earned the 9th overall selection. They dealt that pick to the Vancouver Canucks in exchange for Cory Schneider, which almost blew the roof off the arena.

Lamoriello has gotten his team to move past the Kovalchuk saga. (Photo by Andy Marlin / Getty Images)

Lamoriello has gotten his team to move past the Kovalchuk saga. (Photo by Andy Marlin / Getty Images)

But that move meant the Devils had to give up their 1st round pick this summer. Now the NHL is altering that fine.

The League will give New Jersey the 30th overall pick in the 2014 NHL Draft in Philadelphia. The catch is that the Devils hold exclusive rights to that pick and are not allowed to trade it under any circumstances, which means this wouldn’t have had any impact on the Devils’ plans during trade deadline day yesterday. The Devils are also going to get a break on the $3 million fine. They will now only have to pay half of it.

Many teams in the league are not happy about the NHL’s decision, but many teams dodged bullets with some of the back-diving contracts they handed out.

This might explain why the Devils did not forfeit their first round pick in 2012. Were Lou Lamoriello and company that impressed with Stefan Matteau that they would risk losing a potentially high pick in the future, or did they have an idea that the NHL would refund their pick in the years to come? Either way, this is a huge relief for the New Jersey Devils organization, especially if they can’t climb into a playoff position at season’s end.

Trade Season Kicks Off With a Blast

By Brian Bobal

Miller was impressive in his debut with St. Louis. (Photo by Ralph Freso / AP)

Miller was impressive in his debut with St. Louis. (Photo by Ralph Freso / AP)

The St. Louis Blues took a major leap into Stanley Cup contention on Friday acquiring former Vezina Trophy winner Ryan Miller and Steve Ott from the Buffalo Sabres in exchange for Jaroslav Halak, Chris Stewart, prospect William Carrier, a 2015 1st round pick, and a conditional 2016 3rd round pick. Buffalo also retained $1.75 million of Miller’s contract according to CapGeek.

If there was one weakness the Blues had, it was in their goaltending. Halak and Brian Elliott have been a strong duo for St. Louis during the regular-season in recent seasons, but their play has fallen off once they reach the playoffs. Now they have a proven goaltender who has shown he can perform on a big stage. Don’t forget Ryan Miller was the MVP in the Vancouver Olympics, winning a silver medal. Continue reading →

Time for Brodeur, Devils to Part Ways?

By Brian Bobal

Are we entering the final days of Brodeur being a Devil? (Photo by Getty Images)

Are we entering the final days of Brodeur being a Devil? (Photo by Getty Images)

Is there an easy way to approach one of the greatest goaltenders of all time, a guy who has guarded your net for 20 years and set NHL records in virtually every statistical goaltending category, and tell him it’s time to go? If there is, then Lou Lamoriello would love to hear it. Lamoriello has until the March 5 trade deadline to make one of the biggest decisions in his tenure as Devils GM.

Martin Brodeur’s career is heading into the sunset, whether he likes to think it or not. The Devils know he’s not their No. 1 netminder now that Cory Schneider is there.  When the season started, the two competed for the starting job. Both put together some streaks of solid play. Lately, though, Schneider has proved to be the best guy to give the Devils a chance to win. If it wasn’t for a lackluster offense, Schneider would be amongst the league leaders in wins. Continue reading →

The Ducks Look to Get Back on Track

By Brian Bobal

Captain Ryan Getzlaf and the Ducks need to shake off this little skid before it turns bad. (Photo by Reed Saxon / AP)

Captain Ryan Getzlaf and the Ducks need to shake off this little skid before it turns bad. (Photo by Reed Saxon / AP)

Even though they went into the Olympic break losing six of their last 11 games, the Ducks still hold the best record in the entire league, and they have a 23 point lead on the team holding the last playoff spot. But with 22 games left for them, they cannot let this recent play continue.

Anaheim was definitely one team that needed the two week break. It gives them a chance to refocus themselves for the stretch run, although six of their players are still competing in Sochi. Once the season kicks back up, they have a chance to do that. Continue reading →

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