It’s less than a week until the NHL entry draft and you can already hear those trades winds starting to pick up. On Thursday of last week the New Jersey Devils acquired defenseman Maxim Noreau from the Minnesota Wild in exchange for forward David McIntyre. At the time this seemed like just a minor AHL deal but could it be the beginning of something bigger for the two clubs? This morning as I made my usual rounds on the internet and twitter I came across a rumor involving my beloved Devils and again, Minnesota. Mark Easson of mynhltraderumors.com mentions that New Jersey is, “Looking for a puck moving defenseman,” and are ” rumored to have talked to the Wild about Brent Burns.” He also adds, “(New Jersey) Wouldn’t mind moving the big contract of Brian Rolston and Dainius Zubrus.”
It’s an interesting idea but is it even possible? My magic eight-ball says, “maybe.’
Rolston spent three very successful seasons in Minnesota in which he scored no less than 31 goals in any campaign. He showed signs of the skills the Devils thought they were getting when they brought him back. He has one year left on the 4 year $20 million dollar deal he signed with the Devils after the 2007-08 season. He is familiar with the organization and the fans adored him> It’s not so much of a stretch to see him going back to hockey crazy Minnesota.
Zubrus has 2 years left at $3.4 million per year and although most fans would agree he was probably the most consistent forward last season he is more valuable to New Jersey as a trade commodity at this point. In his 4 years in New Jersey Zubie has scored a grand total of 51 goals. Certainly not the return on their investment the Devils envisioned when they signed him back in 2007.
Burns on the other hand is slated to bring home just over $3.5 million next season before he becomes an UFA. He racked up career highs in goals (17), assists (29), points (46) and penalty minutes (98) last year for the Wild. At 6′ 5” and 219 lbs., Burns would instantly become the biggest guy on the New Jersey blue-line and throw in a dash of toughness mixed with a splash of offensive skill and he instantly makes the Devils better. Burns could fill a giant void in New Jersey’s defense. His ability to move the puck up ice would create some space for the Devils gifted forwards and allow them to generate more lucrative offensive opportunities. If New Jersey landed Burns it would be contingent on their ability to ink him to an extension. Add in the fact that they could possibly be trimming some fat from their bloated payroll it would be a huge victory for GM Lou Lamoriello, EVEN if it meant trading the 4th pick in the draft.
The idea of acquiring a player like Burns may have been planted in Lamoriello’s ear by recently retired head coach Jacques Lemaire. After the Wild drafted Burns 20th overall in 2003, Lemaire played an instrumental part in molding him into the player he is today. Despite playing on the wing for most of his OHL career, the Hall-of-Fame coach saw something in Burns and converted him to defense. Under the defensive-minded Lemaire, Burns adjusted quickly and soon became a solid rushing blueliner and the Wild’s best defenseman. Lamoriello may have jumped on the chance to grab Burns once he heard Minnesota made him available for the right offer.
It still remains to be seen how the Devils would be able to pull a deal like this off but at least it’s the first good rumor we’ve had to sink our teeth into in a while.
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