In a last minute move facing yesterday’s 3pm trade deadline, New Jersey Devils GM Lou Lamoriello acquired Coyotes winger Steve Sullivan for a seventh round draft pick. The 38 year old was originally drafted by New Jersey in 1994.
Is this enough for a team that is barely holding onto the eighth and final playoff seed in the Eastern Conference? He had 12 points this season with Phoenix. Sullivan had a decent year with Pittsburgh last season, but hasn’t flourished in Phoenix and doesn’t figure to on a Devils team that lacks scoring and playmaking ability.
Despite not showing it on a lackadaisical trade deadline, the Devils should be worried. They have been a below .500 team for six weeks now. David Clarkson has two goals in his last 24 games, and Ilya Kovalchuk remains on the sidelines with a shoulder problem.
This, all while two teams trying to steal the Devils’ playoff spot got considerably better.
Let’s start with the New York Rangers. Tied with New Jersey in points, they approached the deadline like this is the last NHL season ever. They traded away Marian Gaborik, which was the gutsy move New Jersey lacked. It is tough to justify a team with the fewest amount of goals in the league trading away one of their most talented goal scorers, but they did it anyway. What they got in return was grit. From Columbus the Rangers received Derrick Brassard, Derek Dorsett (out with a collarbone injury), and defenseman Thomas Moore. This trade came after Glen Sather had already acquired Ryane Clowe from San Jose. Clowe is like a David Clarkson, a guy who can score and fight in the same game. However, he was struggling in San Jose and was goalless in 2013, until he put on the blue sweater.
Clowe, Brassard and Moore combined for four goals and four assists in their debuts as the Rangers dominated the first place Penguins 6-1. It was a real “told you so!” moment for John Tortorella. The derisive coach probably pushed the Gaborik trade as his report with the Slovakian sniper has been well documented.
This roster shakeup may well push the Rangers past the brink and comfortably into the playoff picture.
The same cannot be said for the Devils. As they tread water vigorously with all fours to stay afloat, the goals just aren’t coming. They have lost four straight and are taking on a Boston team Thursday night that has owned them in the past. Steve Sullivan cannot be counted on as the life preserve.
With a young Islanders team that believes in themselves surging and a Washington Capitals team who are all in after trading their top prospect Filip Forsberg for Martin Erat, the Devils may sink.