February 28, 2011
This much was clear about Jason Arnott(notes): He wasn't going to waive his no trade clause for just anyone. He wanted to go to a playoff team rather than a team chasing the playoffs; hell, if he wanted to live and die with the standings on a daily basis, he might as well stick with the New Jersey Devils' Mission: Preposterous run to the No. 8 seed, right?
Instead, the opportunity to join the Washington Capitals arrived -- as many expected it would -- and Arnott agreed to waive his NTC for the chance to play center behind Nicklas Backstrom(notes) on the depth chart. The trade was first reported by Sportsnet.
Via Rich Chere at the Star-Ledger, Arnott said:
"I'm at the end of my career. I want a chance at another Stanley Cup. I think Washington has a good potential to be a Cup team."
Coming back to the Devils is a surprisingly good return for a player that controlled his fate: Center David Steckel, struggling in the first year of a three-year contract extension he signed last January and having gained a bit of infamy this season back on Jan. 1; and a second-round pick in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft.
An interesting note from Fire & Ice on where Devils GM Lou Lamoriello's head was today on Arnott:
According to a source, Lamoriello would prefer to hold on to Arnott, but is exploring offers to see what he can get for him. Arnott is slated to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1.
Arnott's a leader and a big body in front of the net. He's not fleet of skate, but he's not a liability. Most of all, he gives the Capitals something they lacked in last year's postseason: a legit veteran playmaker at center, with siginificant playoff experience and with some size. They also get out from under Steckel's contract.
We're going to give this one Two Milburys. Not a bad return for the Devils for a rental if Steckel can find his game (and a great faceoff man to have on a team that plays their system).
And does this symbolically end the Devils' miracle comeback?