Is Langenbrunner trade first of many to come in New Jersey?

While discussing the trade of Jamie Langenbrunner to the Dallas Stars for a conditional draft pick, Devils GM Lou Lamoriello bristled at talk of rebuilding, but what choice do the Devils have with an older team that can’t win? He can start by gauging interest around the league for useful older players that could bring back useful players in return.

The motivation here being that the Devils will have to get team star and young stud Zach Parise signed to a long term contract after this season because he’s due to become a restricted free agent. Getting Parise locked up with Ilya Kovalchuk gives the Devils two outstanding scorers in which to build around, and with little else to get excited about, cleaning house isn’t the worst idea. But who on this Devils roster offers the kind of ability to bring in a decent return in a trade? There’s a few that stand out.

Patrik Elias is a lifetime Devil and a guy who’s produced solidly on offense every year he’s been in New Jersey. He’s the team’s current leading scorer and equally dangerous as a playmaker and goal scorer. What makes dealing him difficult for the Devils is a $6 million cap hit the next two years after this one. Getting his talent on another team would be an easy sell if it wasn’t for that cap hit and we’re doubting that the Devils would be in the market to take on someone else’s financial disaster.

Jason Arnott is another veteran that could be useful to a team in the market for a playoff-savvy centerman. Arnott’s contract expires after this year, however, which means the return on him would be similar to what the Devils got for Langenbrunner. Arnott also comes with a bigger price tag than Langenbrunner.

Guys like Dainius Zubrus and Brian Rolston would be looked at a bit stronger if their contracts weren’t huge problems. Zubrus’ deal goes for two more years and has a cap hit of $3.4 million. Rolston has been waived, put on re-entry waivers and gone unclaimed meaning that even if he came at half the price teams still didn’t want him. The chances of him being dealt away are virtually slim and none.

That leaves one guy who could bring in a huge trade package that could help the Devils get back into competing shape sooner than not. That guy is Zach Parise. Parise is young, capable of scoring 40+ goals a season, and would require any team acquiring him to have the cap space to get him locked up long term.

The chances of Parise being traded away are very slim, but the possibility is out there in the most fantasy-filled realms. Still, the only guy Lamoriello has declared that he absolutely will not trade is Martin Brodeur. Parise will demand a monster deal and with the Devils being littered with so many bad deals as it is getting a deal done for Parise that won’t hamstring the franchise looks difficult.

According to CapGeek.com the Devils already have $49 million committed to next season and that’s only counting up 14 players. Parise’s deal would almost certainly be in the range of what Ilya Kovalchuk got if not more on a cap hit-basis. Say if Parise’s deal is good for $7 million a year on the cap, you’d be looking at the Devils having $56 million on the cap with up to eight more players to get on the NHL roster and (depending on how much the cap goes up by) anywhere from $5 – $7 million to get them signed. The Devils have suffered plenty this year under a cap crunch and doing it again next year and for years to come can’t be in Lamoriello’s designs.

We’d like to think that Parise would be the absolute last guy that would be traded from New Jersey, but there are teams out there with the combination of prospects, NHL-caliber players, and future cap space to be able to make a deal happen. Virtually every team would have interest in a player of Parise’s ability so finding a team interested wouldn’t be hard. Finding a team that could swing such a monstrous deal and make it work for both sides would be the trick. Getting Lou Lamoriello a safe house to protect him from an angry mob of Devils fans wouldn’t be a bad idea either.

DiMaio named Blues’ director of player personnel

via St. Louis Blues
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The St. Louis Blues named Rob DiMaio their director of player personnel on Tuesday.

He’s been with the organization for some time. He joined as a pro scout in 2008 and was the pro scouting director starting in August 2012.

He was also a scout for the Dallas Stars before landing with the Blues (one would assume his biggest connection is GM Doug Armstrong, then).

In case his nose didn’t give it away, he also enjoyed a lengthy hockey career over 19 seasons.

No doubt about it, this is a pivotal season for the Blues after multiple campaigns in which strong regular seasons dissolved into playoff disappointments. Perhaps DiMaio can make a difference in a heightened role?

Hitchcock going to more aggressive attack for Blues

Ken Hitchcock

ST. LOUIS (AP) After three straight first-round playoff exits, the St. Louis Blues have learned to temper expectations.

They have been consistently among the NHL’s best in the regular season and realize it is past time to build something for the long haul. The sting still lingers from the latest failure, against the Minnesota Wild last spring.

“We’re all disappointed, everybody can agree on that,” defenseman Alex Pietrangelo said. “It’s never easy to kind of think about your failures, but we grow every time it happens.”

Management isn’t ready to tear it all down yet.

“We play, in my opinion, one of the toughest if not the toughest division in the NHL, and we’ve finished first or second in the last four years,” forward Alexander Steen said. “So we have an extremely powerful team.”

Maybe a change in strategy will be enough: Coach Ken Hitchcock is back with a mandate for a more aggressive, even reckless, style of play from a roster that hasn’t changed appreciably.

“We’re coming hard from the back and we’re coming hard to see how close we can get to the attack,” Hitchcock said. “I think it’s where the game’s at; I think it’s where the game’s going to go.”

The 63-year-old Hitchcock is pushing forward, too, unwilling to dwell on the flameouts. Coach and players agree that would be “wasted energy.”

“My opinion is when you sit and think about the past, you do yourself no good,” Hitchcock said. “If you learn from the past, that’s when you do yourself a whole bunch of good.”

There were only two major roster casualties. Forward Troy Brouwer came from Washington in a trade for fan favorite T.J. Oshie. Defenseman Barret Jackman, the franchise career leader in games, wasn’t re-signed.

“If you were expecting 23 new faces to be on the roster this year, I don’t think that was realistic,” captain David Backes said. “We’re going to miss those guys in the room and on the ice, but there has been some changeover and I think it’s pretty significant.”

Things to watch for with the Blues:

GOALIE SHUFFLE: Just like last year, there’s no true No. 1 with Brian Elliott and Jake Allen sharing duties. The 25-year-old Allen missed a chance to seize the job last spring when he failed to raise his level in the playoffs.

TOP THREAT: Vladimir Tarasenko had a breakout season with 37 goals and was rewarded with an eight-year, $60 million contract. The 23-year-old winger is by far the Blues’ most dangerous scoring option and said he won’t let the money affect his play. “I never worry about it,” Tarasenko said. “If you play good, you play good.”

NEW FACES: Brouwer and center Kyle Brodziak add a physical element that was perhaps lacking a bit last season. Brouwer has three 20-plus goal seasons and Brodziak, acquired from Minnesota, fills a checking role. Veteran forward Scottie Upshall got a one-year, two-way deal after being coming to camp as a tryout. Rookie forward Robby Fabbri, a first-round pick last year, will get an early look. Another promising youngster, forward Ty Rattie, begins the year at Chicago of the AHL.

RECOVERY WARD: Forward Jori Lehteri bounced back quickly from ankle surgery and opens the season without restrictions. Another forward, Patrik Berglund, could miss half of the season following shoulder surgery.

TRACK RECORD: The Blues won the Central Division last season and Hitchcock, fourth on the career list with 708 regular-season wins, has consistently had the team near the top of the standings. “He is our coach, tough cookies if you don’t like it,” Backes said. “From my experience, he puts together one heck of a game plan.”