I know this might sound ridiculous, but is the swap of Stefan Matteau for Devante Smith-Pelly the most lopsided short term trade in the history of the NHL? Before you call me an idiot, I want you to find a trade that was so clearly won by one team within three weeks of it taking place. Canadiens fans are already skeptical of why Matteau was even drafted in the first place...
And the Devils offense is currently riding the coattails of someone they acquired in exchange for a player that was a franchise afterthought...
I'm not saying that the Devils pulled a fast one and picked up the next Corey Perry, but the fact that Stefan Matteau has continued to be completely useless only exacerbates how awesome Devante Smith-Pelly has been since arriving in New Jersey. People will be quick to call his numbers a fluke, but they are only somewhat correct. DSP isn't a player that you can depend upon to put a point per game and carry your offense. He is, however, a player you can depend upon to forecheck hard, create space for his line mates, and battle in the hard areas of the ice. Look no further than his goal last night to see what he has brought to the table...
What some may see as a garbage goal, I see as a goal that Devils wouldn't have scored without his toughness and determination in front to the net. Simply put, the Devils have lacked a capable big body that can push people around and still has the ability to put pucks in the net. Stefan Matteau was supposed to be that player, but Devante Smith-Pelly IS that player. No, he's not going to be a 30 goal scorer, but on a good team - which the Devils hope to be in the near future - he's a solid 3rd line contributor. That's something Stefan Matteau was never even remotely close to achieving, and it's something that fills a valuable hole in the Devils lineup.
I think we are close enough to the end of the season to declare Ray Shero's first year as the Devils General Manager a success. The guy didn't exactly turn water to wine, but he at least created a malt liquor-like buzz within the organization. The Devils overachieved in nearly every sense of the world, and more importantly, almost every move he made worked out to varying degrees. It can't be overstated how badly he robbed the Ducks of Kyle Palmieri. Sergey Kalinin was signed out of nowhere and filled in valiantly in bottom six duties. The signing of Lee Stempiak - a player no one else wanted - eventually returned two key assets. He got Eric Gelinas the fuck out of town, and even hoodwinked the Avalanche into giving up a 3rd round pick for him. And last, but not least, he got Devante Smith-Pelly in exchange for the soft, white, overrated version of Devante Smith-Pelly. He wasn't exactly given much to work with, but he's made the most out of what he was, and that's all you can ask out of a man in his position. Judging by every picture he has ever taken, he is not satisfied with the work he's done, so while this offseason will be crucial, for once I am actually heading into it optimistic.