New Jersey Devils President/GM/Ruler of All He Surveys Lou Lamoriello is a contradiction of predictability. There are traditions from which he'll never deviate when it comes to his managerial style or the direction of the franchise; yet there are always decisions he makes that require of a big swig of Lou's Kool-Aid for Devils fans to swallow them.
Like, for example, the seemingly illogical choice to keep the team's 2012 first-round draft pick, No. 29 overall, rather than fulfill the forfeiture required by the NHL after the Devils lost the Ilya Kovalchuk salary cap circumvention dispute.
NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly confirmed via e-mail that the deadline was today and it passed without the Devils informing the league it intended to give up the pick. That means they either intend to use it or trade it.
I spoke with Devils GM Lou Lamoriello at approximately 6 p.m. today and he declined to discuss whether the team would give up its 2012 first-round pick. He said the deadline was not at 5 p.m. today.
Is it possible that Lou didn't realize the deadline was Tuesday, and just had his Dale Tallon/FAX machine moment? Whatever the case, the Devils appear to be holding onto the second-lowest pick in the first round. So the question becomes "why"?
A couple of theories:
1. Lamoriello simply believes it's more important to build a foundation of prospects now than to give up a first-round pick in either of the next two years. This could simply be a philosophical thing. Or an example of his unique brand of stubbornness over the NHL's penalty against the team.
2. The Devils scouts see someone in the first round they've targeted. Let's say, for argument's sake, that player is Malcom Subban of the Bellville Bulls, a goalie and PK's little brother. Oh, hey, look at that: NHL Mock Draft has the Devils taking him at No. 29. If they have to trade up to get him, then they'll need a 2012 first-round pick to do so.
3. The Devils need the first-rounder for another transaction in the works.
4. Lamoriello forgot there was a deadline because of that whole Cup Final thing. It's all a big misunderstanding, the Devils will give up the pick and everyone will have a laugh about it.
5. Lamoriello never wanted the Kovalchuk contract, and will stick it to owner Jeff Vanderbeek in 2014 by leaving him with a forfeited first-round pick after Lou's already walked away from the team. (tin foil hat, off).
Again, at face, it's a really odd, unexpected move from the Devils. Or in Lamoriello's world, "the norm."