Survivor: Devil’s Island

07Dec06

Who will be the next one voted out of New Jersey during the next salary cap challenge? According to the kick-ass online cap tracker, the Devils are less than $1 million under the cap…and that’s NOT counting Richard Matvichuk and his $1.4 million salary coming off the IR.

Uh oh. What will Lou do now?

Devils fans, for many, many years (including my favorite Devils fan David Puddy) have recited the mantra of In Lou We Trust, and three Cups later, can you really blame them? Still, it’s a sticky situation because I get the feeling that Lou really doesn’t want to purge anyone off his roster. The viable candidates are:

Richard Matvichuk $1.4 million (old, injury prone)
Paul Martin $2 million (young, high trade value)
Brad Lukowich $1 million (good depth defenseman)
Sergei Brylin $1.5 million (getting up there, but still a good depth player with playoff experience)

Everyone else either makes too much or too little or has too long of a contract to deal with. Of those guys, I gotta think that the ideal situation is getting rid of Matvichuk, since the Devils are doing pretty good without him and with only 67 goals against so far, it doesn’t look like their D is hurting. Paul Martin could command at least a high draft pick in return while the asking price for Lukowich and Brylin would be much less.

Another interesting possibility would be moving John Madden. Madden’s one of the most effective checking centers in the game, but his $3 million cap hit is a lot to pay for someone who plays the penalty kill and scores 20 goals. Would a team that needs help defensively and with face offs, such as Pittsburgh and their plethora of young prospects, be willing to take on the salary hit for a little more stability?

Would Lou swing a monster package deal, such as dealing Scott Gomez for, say, Brendan Morrison and a pick? Note: I am NOT saying I heard this anywhere, so don’t run with this rumor. Only trust rumors with sources from Spector. This is just me being hypothetical for salary cap reasons. In any case, a Gomez-for-Morrison would take care of the cap situation, and at 64 goals for this season, maybe this would be a shake-up that wouldn’t necessarily destroy the team chemistry. Gomez and Morrison are similar in that they are playmakers that generally need the right talent and fit to really thrive. Could Morrison feed Brian Gionta or Patrick Elias at the same pace as Gomez at a cheaper price? Would Lou even take Morrison back after he left him for dead many moons ago?

Again, this is just speculation, so don’t look into it too deeply — I have no super-secret-rumors to break, just logical speculation based on numbers and performance. Still, Lou’s going to have his hands tied pretty soon, unless he hires Scott Stevens to break Matvichuk’s ankle in his sleep.

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