Devils put potential trade chip Ryder back into lineup

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Michael Ryder has spent seven straight contests in the press box, but he’ll finally be back in the lineup when the New Jersey Devils take on the Chicago Blackhawks at 8:30 p.m. ET tonight.

With the March 2 trade deadline around the corner and Ryder set to become an unrestricted free agent this summer, this can be viewed as the struggling Devils’ attempt to showcase him to contenders that might be interested in the 34-year-old forward’s services.

“Whatever happens, happens. I just want to play hockey and win,” Ryder told the Bergen Record. “I know I can help a team – help this team if I’m here or wherever else. If I get traded, I get traded. There’s not much I can do about it. I’m not losing any sleep about it.”

For his part, Devils GM and interim coach Lou Lamoriello credited Ryder’s hard work during practices for the lineup shakeup, which came at the expense of Martin Havlat.

Havlat, 33, has five goals and 14 points in 36 contests this season. He admitted to being surprised and disappointed by the fact that he won’t be playing against his former club.

“Especially here – one of the best (arenas) in the league and one of the best teams in the league,” Havlat said. “It’s always fun to play against these guys. It is what it is. Sometimes decisions have to be made and that’s all. I’ll be ready for the next game.”

Like Ryder, Havlat is eligible to test the free agent waters this summer and has consequently been the subject of trade speculation.