The New Jersey Devils finished last season with 103 points and a loss to the Philadelphia Flyers in the first round of the playoffs. It was their fourth first round exit in the last six years but this season they won’t even get a chance to make it five early exits, as it has been a completely different story for the NHL’s worst team.
And on Friday the Devils, who are on pace for 45 points, traded captain Jamie Lagenbrunner to the Dallas Stars, the city where it all started for the two time Stanley Cup champion.
This could be the start of the of a salary purge and a big time roster shake up as the Devils still find themselves in cap trouble. The trade had been rumored throughout the week, though it was unclear what team Lagenbrunner would find himself apart of. In exchange for Lagenbrunner, the Devils get a conditional third-round draft pick that could turn into a second round pick in 2011 or 2012.
Lagenbrunner began his career in Dallas when he was selected 35th overall in the 1993 Entry Draft. He was with the franchise for their first ever Stanley Cup in 1999 and in 2002 was traded along with current Stars GM Joe Nieuwendyk to New Jersey, where the two were intricate pieces in the Devils third Stanley Cup in 2003.
The 35-year-old Langenbrunner has never been an offensive juggernaut but rather a leader that makes the players around him better. He has been the Devils captain since Dec. 5, 2005, however this season he has struggled just as the Devils have and has just 14 points in 31 games.
“The reason of the trade is simple, with the status of payroll its at right now and the players that need to be re-signed, we would not be re-signing Jamie and we want to see some of the younger players getting ice time he’s getting in the position he’s in,” Devils GM Lou Lamoriello told the NHL website.
A change of scenery could be just what Lagenbrunner needs as he heads to a team that is a contender and currently third in the West. He could be in the lineup as early as Sunday when the Stars head to Minnesota to take on the Wild.
"There is no transaction or any trade that is easy," Lamoriello added. "When it’s a quality person that has given what Jamie has given us it’s difficult. Unfortunately, the decision, in the status we’re in, is being made for the right reasons. Jamie understands that.”
It seems now that no job is safe for New Jersey. We expect the Devils to make a few more moves before the end of this season, which aches the question will Martin Brodeur, who was a healthy scratch for the second straight game last night, finish out his career as a member of the Devils?