The Devils Signed 5 Players Today (Spoiler Alert: None Of Them Will Make You Forget About Taylor Hall)
Let's just get this out in the open right quick. The 5 players that are about to be mentioned probably aren't going to make your blood boil, but they probably aren't going to make it rush to the tip of your penis either. I think I speak for ALL Devils fans when I say we are still very much intoxicated by the thought of Taylor Hall wearing red and black, and a handful of complimentary signings are not going to effect that buzz one way or the other. Ray Shero has very much bought himself at least a summer's worth of goodwill with one of the most blockbuster trades in franchise history, and it's hard to think about anything else with it being just two days in the rearview. That said, let's get to it...
Do I love giving Ben Lovejoy over 2.5 million per year for the next three years? Not particularly. Then again, I don't think there is a person alive that truly "loves" the specifics of the contracts that their teams give out during free agency. That's just the nature of the beast. Players get overpaid when the entirety of the league is negotiating against each other, and Ben Lovejoy - a stopgap defenseman for a team in desperate need of one - is no different. The Devils added the all-too-important right handed shot on the blueline that they shipped out of town by trading Adam Larsson, and they did so at relatively reasonable price. If there isn't another move made on the backend then it's probably going to be frustrating watching a player who is better suited for a third pairing struggle to contribute enough to justify his inevitable spot on the second pairing. However - by all accounts - he is a tough player that excels at the penalty kill and is coming off a very impressive performance en route to helping his (now former) team win a Stanley Cup. You could certainly find worse ways to spend a fairly modest chunk of change than on an experienced guy at an obvious position of need.
Let me throw some names at you...
Jiri Tlusty, Stephen Gionta, Jordin Tootoo, Tyler Kennedy, Tuomo Ruutu, Jacob Josefson.
Do you know what they all they in common?
Their CUMULATIVE production was just replaced by a 36 year old forward who is very much skating on his last leg. No seriously, those players COMBINED scored TWO more goals than their new replacement. If you had mentioned the name Vern Fiddler to me three hours ago I would have thought you were talking about the suspect who everyone thinks is guilty throughout the first 55 minutes of an episode of CSI: North Dakota. However, I stand before you now supporting his addition for no other reason than the fact that he's capable of producing while playing in a bottom 6 role. Is my endorsement more of an indictment of the players that came before him? Absolutely, but aging veterans named Vern should just take what they can get when it comes to compliments.
Until further notice...
::takes deep breathe::
Stefan Matteau, eat your heart out! Honestly, the fact that the Devils turned a useless bag of shit into a player that instantly contributed and proved himself worthy of a longer commitment is nothing short of miraculous. No one should be under the illusion that this team just resigned the player who scored 7 goals in his first 9 games in New Jersey. They should, on the other hand, rest assured that the 3rd line right wing position has been solidified by someone who can be a pain in the ass on the forecheck and has no qualms with going to the dirty areas to contribute. That's invaluable for a team that has struggled to score the last few years.
What's bigger, the limb I am about to go on by saying that if Beau Bennett is healthy he will drastically outperform the third round price tag they paid to get him, or the 'if' itself?
Much like the uncertainty surrounding how the Devils plan on filling out a still depleted defensive corps, only time will tell...