Like many of his Devils teammates, Travis Zajac doesn’t know what the future holds with Lou Lamoriello out and Ray Shero in as GM.
“To be honest, I’m not sure how I’ll be affected,” Zajac told NJ Advance Media. “I think I’m a very coachable player. Whatever they expect from me or want me to do, I’ll do whatever it takes to help this team in any way. I believe in this organization.
“I don’t see the change being too much of a problem for me. But with Ray, and when we get a new head coach, we’ll sit down and see what they expect from me. I have a lot to give still and I feel like I can still help this organization and this team.”
Zajac — who Lamoriello signed to an eight-year, $46 million extension in 2013 — has been something of a disappointment in recent campaigns and has yet to rediscover the form that saw him score 67 points in 82 games in 2009-10. Of course, that team featured the likes of Zach Parise and Ilya Kovalchuk, a far cry from the offensively-challenged Devils of last season, when Zajac scored just 25 points.
To that end, he feels it’s important for Shero to add some talent that’ll help the team find the back of the net.
“We would all like to score more goals. There is no doubt about that,” he said. “We could use some help at some positions and hopefully we can get that. If not, everyone will have to elevate their game. I don’t think we’re far away from where we want to be, but you can always bring in pieces that can help.”
Patrik Elias admits that his career might be winding down, yet he told the Bergen Record that he’s comfortable with the idea of being traded away from the only team he knows … or not.
The 39-year-old said he wasn’t sure what new New Jersey Devils GM Ray Shero has planned for him, yet he seems OK with either scenario.
“Honestly, if he wants to change things around and this is not a place for me anymore, it’s OK,” Elias said. “It happens. And if he wants to keep me around and still be a part of the team, then I’ll be more than happy.”
Of course, that doesn’t mean that the veteran would waive his no-trade clause for just any destination. Perhaps he wouldn’t be as easy going if Shero asked him to accept a move to a basement team in an unforgiving climate?
That’s something the two will likely need to discuss going forward, but it sounds like the Czech winger would at least be open-minded about a deal. The 2014-15 season was rough for him (34 points is a career-low, unless you count sparse appearances in 1995-96 and 1996-97), even with the token All-Star nod, so perhaps he’s more interested in going out on a high note than getting everything his way?
New Jersey Devils co-owner Josh Harris is frustrated about the fact that his team hasn’t advanced to the postseason since he bought them along with David Blitzer in August 2013 and if they miss the playoffs again next season, he would be disappointed. But he wants to take a long-term view of the Devils, even if it means that there might be some short-term pain.
“There are no shortcuts … we’re going to make decisions that allow us to be an elite team and that’s not being one and done in the playoffs,” Harris told the Bergen Record. “Being one and done in the playoffs is not really interesting from my point of view. So, that means being deep in the playoffs and in the hunt for the Stanley Cup and ultimately competing for the Stanley Cup and winning the Stanley Cup. So, putting a time frame on it, if it takes a little time to achieve that, we’re going to make decisions that are consistent with that goal. And I can’t put a time frame on it. I can tell you I want it to be as fast as possible.”
The Devils already have a great goaltender in Cory Schneider and their defense is promising too, but the Achilles’ heel has been their offense. New GM Ray Shero will work to address that, but based on Harris’ comments, he might be unlikely to offer up much in the way of picks or prospects for veteran help.
It’s worth adding that when asked if the Devils would consider offers for the sixth overall pick in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft, Harris felt it was important to keep everything on the table. However, given their long-term mandate, the circumstances in which they would move that pick are probably narrow.
The New Jersey Devils have reportedly signed forward Jordin Tootoo to a one-year contract worth $825,000.
Tootoo had 10 goals and 15 points while averaging 10:27 in time on ice in 68 games during his first season in New Jersey.
The 32-year-old signed a one-year $550,000 deal with the Devils this season after joining the club on a professional tryout.
Prior to joining New Jersey Tootoo appeared in 53 games over two seasons with the Detroit Red Wings scoring three goals and six assists.
Lou Lamoriello announced today that he’ll be handing over the general manager’s job to Ray Shero while retaining his position as team president. Shero appreciates all that Lamoriello has done since taking over in 1987, but in light of New Jersey’s recent struggles, he also wants to do things a bit differently.
“Lou and I have discussed a lot of things as far as philosophy. I’m not Lou and I’m not like Lou. And he’s not like me. We’re different,” Shero told NJ Advance Media. “There are a lot of different philosophies that we do share, but when you look Pittsburgh and New Jersey they are certainly different teams.
“You look at the Devils and it’s about his defensive philosophy. That’s been very successful for them. But in terms of where the are now and moving forward to be successful, let’s be honest. There has to be a complement of that with a philosophy of offensive hockey and scoring more goals. If not, there is not much room for error. Without that, goaltending and team defense can only take you so far.”
Shero has a lot of experience with offensively gifted teams from his days with Pittsburgh, but then, he had plenty to work with in Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. The Devils ranked 28th in goals per game last season, but it’s not as if their defense-first approach has always gone hand-in-hand with offensive anemia. New Jersey was a middle-of-the-road team offensively in 2011-12 when it last made the playoffs and went all the way to the Stanley Cup Final.
Back then the Devils had Ilya Kovalchuk, Patrik Elias, and Zach Parise leading the charge though. Parise and Kovalchuk have since left the team while Elias turned 39 in April.
Filling the void left by the departure of superstars is an extremely difficult task, but it’s the one Shero inherited. He’s already got a strong goaltending tandem in Cory Schneider and Keith Kinkaid and a promising blueline. Whether or not he is able to elevate the Devils’ offense to at least respectable levels could determine how his tenure with New Jersey will ultimately be viewed.