So where are you on the Lou Lamoriello change within the Devils organization? You can’t take away what Lou Lamoriello has meant to the New Jersey Devils during his career as the President/GM (he will remain as President) but you also can’t dismiss what the last three years have been.
Since the trip to the finals in 2012, Lou has been playing catch-up and an organization that was once the model and framework of what every NHL team wanted to be was no more. There was no big picture and frankly, there were no answers on how to fix what became so broken. At the beginning of the season, the Devils were so far from being a contender and it was obvious that Lou really didn’t have a plan on how to return the Devils to being a contender. Lou and the Devils got lucky with the Mike Cammalleri signing last summer as he proved to be a valuable asset. The trade that brought Corey Schneider to NJ was another genius move as Schneider’s value in NJ is through the roof but those few good moves are overshadowed by a bunch of bad moves.
Travis Zajac – paid like a top line center with $5.75 million per year until his contract expires in July of 2021. He had 18 goals in 2013-14 and just 11 goals last season. If he had racked up the numbers in the assist column, things would be ok but he had just 14 assists in 2014-15. He’s nothing more than a 3rd line center at best.
Ryan Clowe – an almost $5 million cap hit for the next 3 seasons, Clowe has spent the first 2 seasons of his 5 year deal basically unable to play hockey. He’s appeared in just 56 games over the last 2 seasons and had only 8 goals during his time in NJ. He’s a special case because constant head injuries have kept him off the ice but in the summer of 2013, the buzz about Ryane Clowe was that he was prone to head injuries and teams should stay away. NJ lost Clarkson, panicked and signed Ryane Clowe.
Patrik Elias – Signed a 3 year deal in the summer of 2013 that would pay him $5.5 million each year. He was once a dependable and clutch goal scorer but age has done away with that. No doubt his contract in 2013 was given to him because of what he had done, not because of what he would do – 18 and 13 goal seasons in the first two years of this deal. Looks like we have 8 goals to look forward to from Patrik Elias in 2015-16.
We could go on and on, especially about Lou’s decision to hang on to Michael Ryder and Martin Havlat at the 2015 trading deadline vs trading them for draft picks which he followed up by healthy scratching the two players for 95% of the post trade deadline games. Or the decision to pursue Ilya Kovalchuk in the summer of 2011 while alienating Zack Parise, both of whom do not play hockey for New Jersey.
Yes, Lou’s been a valuable asset to the New Jersey Devils since that day he took the GM job back in 1987 but the game has changed and while the Devils made a trip to the finals in 2012, the state of this team since that run can easily be described as “in shambles.” The time for change is here and while there’s a lot of criticism about Ray Shero inheriting a winner and not building a winner in Pittsburgh, I do believe he’s an intelligent GM that will bring in the right coach and the right guys to restore the Devils back to their winning ways.