This summer, the Devils let Madden walk. The result was an off-season of speculation about who NJ would find to replace MadDog. Some talked about Rod Pelley (Lou Lams himself noting the chance for a guy like Pelley to step up). Some thought Malhotra would be the best FA replacement (myself included). It was quite a while before anything happened.
Malhotra eventually signed elsewhere, as did Dom Moore. Madden got 2.75 mill (cap hit) in Chicago, a slight dip from his NJ salary which Lamoriello obviously didn’t want to pay again for the aging forward. In many ways, NJ retaining so many of its players (through one raise after the next) made it impossible to keep the group together. Madden was no longer worth 3 mill, and Gionta wasn’t worth the 5 mill he got in Montreal.
Granted, Malhotra signed for only 700k in the Shark Tank (a guy I still think was the best option – but who reportedly really wanted to play in SJ). Moore got just a shade over a million in Florida, but his offensive production completely disappeared last year after he got traded at the deadline, likely scaring away most suiters (since his agent was touting him as a 2-way forward). The Devils played the waiting game and ended up going with Rob Niedermayer (an ironic signing in the wake of Scott Niedermayer’s departure a while back).
Rob Nieds got 1 million on a 1-year deal. No risk. 1.75 million less than Madden got with the Hawks. Fiscally, a great move by the Devils. Let’s compare the early season numbers.
Madden on the Hawks:
8 games; 1 goal, 1 assit, 0 +-, logging decent minutes on a line with Andrew Ladd and Troy Bouwer.
R. Nieds on the Devils:
7 games; 2 goals, 3 assists, +2, at times playing with Clarkson/Pandolfo, others with Rolston/Pandolfo, and most recently on the top line with Parise and Langenbrunner.
Like Madden, Niedermayer has provided an excellent faceoff man (better than people predicted since he played wing in Anaheim). However, he also seems more versatile than Madden, and the coaching staff hasn’t hesitated using him on various lines and in various situations. Offensively, he is producing (another bonus).
All in all, this move is making Lou look like a genius. But, on the Devils, it’s all about playoff wins, and that is when true judgment will come. Additionally, Lou needs a move here and there to make him look good nowadays when the team is still icing Andrew Peters (a guy who can hardly keep up with the play let alone be part of it). Crossing my fingers that the Peters NHL experiment quickly turns into an AHL experiment (as happened with Cory Murphy the other day).
Tangents aside, Robby Niedermayer is doing a great job thus far, and I look forward to watching his season unfold. And while maybe most Devils fans don’t want to admit it, I think everyone has a small thought in the back of their minds that maybe Scott Niedermayer would like to retire a Devil. Trade deadline anyone? That would certainly be interesting.
Filed Under: New Jersey Devils
About the Author: Howdy. I live in Northern NJ and have been a Devil's fan for as long as I've followed hockey. I've never blogged before, but I do make my financial living as a technical writer, so I should be able to put a few thoughts together. Additionally, I write fiction novels in my spare time. Other hobbies include: reading, playing guitar, fantasy hockey, going to movies, etc. Thanks for reading. -Bekim