And then there was this...
Look, it doesn't take a rocket scientist or an NHL GM to figure out the Devils are woefully deficient in the scoring winger department. Would a guy like Ales Hemsky help? Yes, he would -- if only he wasn't set to count for $5 million against next year's salary cap. The Devils didn't want to add salary to this year's roster, which is why they kept Stefan Matteau around instead of signing or trading for a veteran when Dainius Zubrus went out of the lineup. It's why their "big moves" so far have been the trade for Andrei Loktionov and Alexei Ponikarovsky. The Devils aren't interested in adding to their books with the cap shrinking and players like David Clarkson and Patrik Elias set to become unrestricted free agents.
"OK, but Jarome Iginla isn't signed for next year and he'd be awesome!," you say. "And! Even though Lou says he doesn't like big moves, they did trade for Kovy at the deadline," you point out. Fair points, Iginla would help and the Devils have (in the past) occasionally strolled up to the trade deadline table, unzipped their fly and let everyone see what they're working with. But Iginla is reportedly unwilling to leave Calgary without some sort of contract extension from his new team and Iginla just happens to have a no-trade clause. Also, the Devils don't have the assets the Flames want in an Iginla deal -- not unless you want to completely gut the system for a player that will not turn a fringe playoff team into a Stanley Cup contender.
So that leaves us with waiting and hoping. Waiting for Zubrus, Ponikarovsky, Kovy, Henrik Tallinder, Stephen Gionta and Bryce Salvador to get healthy and hoping that when the Devils are a better team when they finally have their full compliment of forwards and defense. It's not a crazy idea. Will it lead to a run like last year's storybook postseason? No. These Devils aren't on that level, at least not right now. But take a look at the Devils' current depth chart (including a healthy Gionta and Salvador since the injuries are "minor," for now) and then add back in Zubrus, Poni and Kovy. That will push guys like Krys Barch permanently out of the lineup, while also giving the Devils four lines worth of depth at every forward position. Here's what coach Pete DeBoer could have at his disposal if (when) the Devils are healthy.
Assuming the Devils keep all eight defensemen (which they will), that would make Barch the extra forward for appearances sake (and the two games left against the Rangers). It also means fringe guys like Tom Kostoplous, Tim Sestito and Harri Pesonen are guys you keep around when rosters expand -- not play for up to 10 minutes a night each. Plus, the Devils haven't had four lines like that all season. You could also mix and match and play Henrique up top or on the wing in place of Zubrus, who can also dabble in the middle if needed. There's the recent Carter-Loktionov-Bernier trio that had some good shifts Monday night, too. My point is that the Devils, if they get healthy, will have their best roster of forwards since last season. Is it ideal? No, but finances dictate this is the way it'll likely be.