The New Jersey Devils were able to move defenseman Marek Zidlicky and forward Jaromir Jagr for draft picks before the trade deadline, but they couldn’t find a new home for 34-year-old Michael Ryder or 33-year-old Martin Havlat. The two veteran forwards have spent a lot of time in the press box lately and would have presumably jumped at the opportunity to get a fresh start elsewhere.
Ryder in particularly was very open about the subject when it was brought up last week.
“I just want to play, so if it’s being traded, it’s being traded,” Ryder told the Bergen Record at the time. “I’m at the point that the guys are winning here and I’m happy for that. We’re making a little push and it would be nice to be playing and be a part of that, but if I get traded and play I’ll be happy with that, too. I just want to play.”
That didn’t happen though so now he has to ride out the remainder of the season on a team that isn’t likely to make the playoffs and hasn’t used him much recently. Along with Havlat, having a pair of potentially disgruntled veterans on the roster is far from ideal.
“I can’t control that,” Devils GM Lou Lamoriello said on Monday, per the Record. “They’re pros, they’re professionals. There’s not much I can do about that. We’ll do everything we can do to what’s right by the team first and certainly them very, very close. They’re aware of that. The best answer I can give for that is we’re going to do what’s best for the team. We’re here to win right now and anybody who feels other than that, I can’t help their thoughts. We have to get ready for tomorrow night. This is an unfortunate time. This is a difficult time for the players, a lot of anticipation, a lot of anxieties in all areas.”
Of course, under the circumstances Lamoriello would have likely dealt them if a market existed, which raises questions about their future in the league. Ryder and Havlat are eligible to become unrestricted free agents this summer, but if they can’t secure regular minutes with the Devils and there presumably weren’t any takers for them at the deadline, will there be much interest in the open market?