A world of options for the Devils
June, 29, 2013
By Craig Custance | ESPN.com
Andy Marlin/Getty ImagesLou Lamorielllo isn't altering his draft strategy because the event is being held in New Jersey.Last year's draft host, the Pittsburgh Penguins, made one of the biggest splashes on draft day by shipping center Jordan Staal to the Carolina Hurricanes, a deal that stunned the home crowd.
This year's draft is in New Jersey, but Devils GM Lou Lamoriello didn't sound like a guy who was altering plans just because the draft is in his city.
"Our preparation for the draft is the same thing as if we're going to another city," he said when we chatted last week. "The only thing we do have to worry about is maybe our own scouts coming in and being at home and the distractions of being in our home town."
The Devils own the No. 9 pick in the draft, which opens up a world of options for Lamoriello. There is a pretty clear consensus on the top five players in the draft, but things open up after that. Some scouts believe there are a solid 40 first-round talents in this draft, which gives Lamoriello plenty of flexibility when it comes time to make his pick.
That might be part of the reason he's very open to trading it.
"Any team that [says it] doesn't want to move up or down depending on what's available is kidding you," he said. "If you can get something that's better than where you're at -- we've done everything over the years. We've moved up, we've moved down. We've given our first pick; we haven't signed our first pick. We've done a few things. You just have to do what's best for the team."
Lamoriello is facing another crucial offseason in New Jersey. He has two potential UFAs in David Clarkson and Patrik Elias, who remain unsigned, and said he's doing everything possible to re-sign them. After advancing to the Stanley Cup finals last year, the Devils lost captain Zach Parise in free agency to the Minnesota Wild. They missed the playoffs this year by seven points.
It's no secret that Devils ownership isn't in a good place, which further complicates how Lamoriello can attack this offseason. On the surface, New Jersey doesn't look to have the kind of depth that can withstand losing more high-end talent, but there have been a lot of talented players who have left the Devils and yet the team survived.
Lamoriello said that he's working hard to get his players signed but that he won't look back if it doesn't happen. He remains optimistic that the Devils are still at a point where they can remain contenders.
"If you don't feel optimistic and you don't feel good, you shouldn't be in the game," he said. "Sometimes it's the least expected [player] that makes you better -- different people. I haven't seen one guy go on the ice yet and play against five other guys and have success. That's the thing we have to understand. It's all about what's the best team to put together."