January 10, 2009
TSN reported this afternoon that free agent winger Brendan Shanahan and the New Jersey Devils were close to a deal; Devils beat writer Tom Gulitti confirmed on Fire & Ice that Shanny has signed what's believed to be a one-year contract, bringing the 39-year-old forward back to the team where his NHL career started. And this is what happens when you get embarrassed by the Atlanta Thrashers on home ice ...
Shanahan had 23 goals and 46 points last year with the New York Rangers, and was also linked with the Philadelphia Flyers and St. Louis Blues earlier this season as a potential home. The numbers on this deal should be interesting, as the Devils didn't have all that much cap space to begin with.
Two areas where this immediately helps the team. First is the power play, where the Devils are 20th in the NHL and where Shanahan has averaged over 22 points per season in the last three years.
The second is having a three-time Stanley Cup champion in the locker room, whose first NHL season came when Zach Parise was three years old. In other words, someone who isn't going be very cool with losing 4-0 to the Thrashers at The Rock.
Brian Rolston, Bobby Holik, Brendan Shanahan ... again, Lou Lamoriello keeps it in the family. But this move is also an indication of Lamoriello's concerns about the current team's inconsistencies, and the clear importance he's placed on building a Cup contender with a backbone of reliable old hands. Now all the Devils have to prove is that they're not the 2008 Avalanche, a team of over-cooked leftovers from a bygone era.
Finally, let's not forget the importance of having Brendan Shanahan on hand in case the Devils and Rangers meet again in the playoffs. Talk about motivation ...