This afternoon the New Jersey Devils acquired former Stanley Cup hero Jason Arnott from the Nashville Predators in exchange for Dave Halischuk and a second round pick and 2011. This move will prove to be both good and bad for the Devils.
Devils fans will never forget the Cup-clinching, double overtime goal Arnott scored in 2000, and within two seasons of that monumental event, he was traded to the team he scored against, the Dallas Stars. After playing three solid seasons there, he then moved to the Nashville Predators, where he would end up becoming captain, and again, string together four very good seasons.
Although battling injuries for the last few seasons, Arnott is still a very tough and strong presence up the middle, as he stands 6’5” and 219 pounds. The reason why this move is good for New Jersey, is because they needed a checking center with offensive capability, something they lost when John Madden bolted for Chicago before last season.
Any way you look at it, this movie is not terrible. Should he stay healthy, he will easily put up 50-60 points. However, this move does not show the Devils going in the right direction.
With several disappointing and early playoff exits since the lockout, General Manager Lou Lamoriello has been trying to reclaim past glory. First was when he brought back a then 35 year old Brian Rolston early in the summer of 2008, and then later that off-season with the addition of a 38 year old Bobby Holik.
Both had won the Cup with New Jersey in previous seasons.
Arnott falls under the same, recent trend from the Devils, who also brought back former Cup winning coach Jacques Lemaire last season, before he was let go just weeks after this past season ended. Arnott will be 37 this October, and for a Devils team that already has eight players over the age of 34, this move really does not speak much for the future.
Jason Arnott is also slated to make $4.5 million in what is the final year of his contract. It’s a pretty big cap hit, but that amount seems to be the going rate for a 50 point player.
This series of moves seems eerily similar to Neil Smith during the tail-end of his tenure with the Rangers in the late 90’s. When nothing else was working, he resorted to bringing back the 1994 Cup heroes and former Oilers teammates of Mark Messier, who were then way past their prime. It worked a little bit, but fizzled out after a short while.
Could Lamoriello be running out of options, and bringing back aging stars is all he has left? We will soon see, with still an entire off-season still to come. It will be interesting what direction the Devils take.