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Jamie Langenbrunner: The First to Go

Posted By Mike Luciano On Jan 7 2011 @ 2:21 am In New Jersey Devils | 3 Comments

It’s old news that the Devil’s captain Jamie Langenbrunner has been asked to waive his no-trade clause. Langenbrunner was a healthy scratch in tonight’s 4-2 loss against the Philadelphia Flyers and confirmed himself he’s standing by waiting to be traded. It’s obviously a sad sight to see Langenbrunner, who’s been a part of the organization for almost eight seasons, have his days numbered. When it was clear the Devils hit rock bottom, it became apparent this move was inevitable and I think Lamoriello tried prolonging the initiation of dismantling his veteran core he’s achieved so much success with over the years.

Lou Lamoriello is an honorable man and very loyal to his “Lou-type” players. He tends to instill change in bits and with a rebuild inevitably in the works between now and the trade deadline, I’m interested to see how the need for that is going to conflict with that sentimental loyalty. Over the past off-season, I preached the Devils should have done this and I was laughed at. Not saying it feels good to be right under these circumstances, but I’d like to say this debacle of a season justified my beliefs.

So far, it’s been reported eight teams have expressed interest in Langenbrunner, one being the division rival Philadelphia Flyers. Langenbrunner becomes an unrestricted free agent on July 1st and has a cap hit of $2.8 million. Although he’s struggled immensely this year as most Devils have, I can see a change of scenery in a productive and winning environment redeeming the qualities he’s best known for. Out of the teams reportedly interested in Langenbrunner, I see a lot of variation as to where he’d make the best fit and what teams could get the most out of him.

Anaheim Ducks: Sitting in the bottom ten in goals scored, Anaheim could use Langenbrunner’s offense if he thrives from the change of scenery. He’d fit in well with the team’s veteran offensive core that features the likes of Teemu Salenne, Saku Koivu, and Jason Blake.

Colorado Avalanche: The Avs have been rumored to be interested in Langenbrunner since the preseason. The Avalanche could benefit from Langenbrunner’s veteran leadership, and he could provide primary relief until Chris Stewart returns to the lineup.

Dallas Stars: With a whole new management staff, I don’t think Langenbrunner will have any sour feelings about returning to the team he was traded from to New Jersey (ironically, Joe Nieuwendyk the current general manager of the Dallas Stars was shipped to New Jersey with Langenbrunner back in 2002). Dallas lacks productive natural right wings and are in a great position for a deep playoff run.

Montreal Canadians: Montreal’s tight in cap space last I checked Montreal is struggling offensively with the majority of their roster failing to live up to expectations this year. I can see Langenbrunner waiving his NTC to come here to play with his old team mates Scott Gomez and Brian Gionta.

Philadelphia Flyers: Reports from earlier tonight had the Flyers offering two draft picks for Langenbrunner. I think Philadelphia would be the best fit for Jamie as far as his chances for playoff success. Philadelphia’s deep in right wings so I can only see Langenbrunner in a third line role at most with this team.

San Jose Sharks: The Sharks aren’t doing as good compared to recent years. If there’s any team I’d like to assure he’d get his scoring touch back and be used to the best of his ability, it’ll be in San Jose. He could thrive on the second or third line and gel in nicely with the team’s mix of productive young and veteran players.

St. Louis Blues: Although the Blues are a team looking to prove something, they lack top end talent and I think Langenbrunner would be more of the same of what they already have. Being that they’re a very young team, Langenbrunner could provide a solid veteran presence in the locker room. I can’t see him waiving his NTC to come to St. Louis though.

Washington Capitals: The Capitals were reported to have jumped into the Langenbrunner sweeps shortly after the conclusion of the Devil’s 4-2 loss to Philadelphia. The Caps don’t have much on the right side outside of Mike Knuble, but I can’t see Langenbrunner able to keep up with the likes of Ovechkin, Semin, and Backstrom. Langenbrunner would definitely waive his NTC for an opportunity to play for a cup contender, but I don’t see him being a sufficient fit.

When all said is done, I think it’s time for the Devils and Langenbrunner to move on. New Jersey was fortunate to get the best years of Jamie, who was able to help the Devils capture their third Stanley Cup. At this point in his career, I think he’s better off playing for a contender in a new city with new team mates. He still has plenty of hockey in him, but where he’s at doesn’t coincide with the direction the Devils are likely going to be headed.
Langenbrunner represented the Devils well as their captain. His image soured when his disagreement over being scratched in a late season game by coach Jacques Lemaire was publicized, but I’ve heard the nature of the incident was severely amplified by media outlets. Having said that, the facts stand. Under Langenbrunner’s captaincy, the Devils failed to advance beyond the first round of the playoffs three times and slumped significantly towards the end of each of the past three seasons. Langenbrunner was a solid producer during the regular season but faded when the playoffs rolled along. After notching eleven goals in the 2003 playoffs, Langenbrunner only scored seven times in the years since. Wherever he goes next will surely be a team poised to make a playoff run. It remains to be seen how much this undisclosed team will get out of New Jersey’s soon to be ex-captain.

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