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With Kovalchuk gone, Devils pursue Damien Brunner

Jul 13, 2013, 9:26 AM EDT

Damien Brunner AP

Now that Ilya Kovalchuk is an ex-Devils forward, they need to find a way to replace all the offense lost. They may have found a way to start doing just that.

Nicola Berger of Swiss newspaper Neue Luzerner Zeitung reports the Devils are hot after free agent Damien Brunner and are close to signing the Swiss winger.

Berger says the Devils are “doing a lot of background work on him” which must translate into “finding out if he’ll suddenly retire to play in Switzerland at a moments notice.”

Brunner made his NHL debut last season with the Detroit Red Wings and was an instant success story as he scored 12 goals and finished with 26 points. He also made his mark in shootouts proving to be an effective scorer there as well. While Detroit wanted to keep him around, his asking price was a bit too high for their salary cap needs.

  1. kegmen7 - Jul 13, 2013 at 9:56 AM

    Best option available right now without making a trade. Mason Raymond is also interesting, but I am curious how much it would cost to bring Vanek to Jersey. His name has been in the rumor mill a long time and would be ideal. Wish we got in on Bobby Ryan (Jersey kid) while we could.

    • stakex - Jul 13, 2013 at 11:32 AM

      The Devils never could have been in on the Bobby Ryan trade. I’ve pointed this out before, but its worth repeating…. the Devils didn’t/don’t have any assets to make a big trade this summer.

      The Ducks got Stefan Noesen (21st pick in 2011, and a very solid prospect), Jakob Silfverberg (another promising young player), and a 2014 1st round pick for Ryan. The Devils couldn’t have done anything close to that, especially since they don’t have a 2014 1st round pick.

      They would have the same problem going after Vanek. The asking price is suppose to be very high, and the Devils don’t have the assets to make even a decent offer.

  2. kingsforever - Jul 13, 2013 at 10:00 AM

    Brunner > Raymond

    • letsgopens8771 - Jul 13, 2013 at 10:26 AM

      Agreed. Both have speed, but Raymond has injury problems.

      • 19to77 - Jul 13, 2013 at 1:44 PM

        Why not go for both? Raymond’s useful on the PK, can potentially chip in 20-25 goals and it’s not like the Devils are lacking cap space with the chunk Kovalchuk just freed up.

        Personally I’d invest in defense as much as scoring in a situation like this (Tallinder’s departure is looking pretty ill-timed in retrospect) but when the UFA defense market is this thin – http://www.capgeek.com/ufa-finder/?position_id=D – it’s probably best not to.

  3. moolium - Jul 13, 2013 at 10:03 AM

    Bobby Ryan is from jersey, but flyers territory. Not devils. He’s from cherry hill

    • 950003cups - Jul 13, 2013 at 10:30 AM

      Yep. He’s from Eagle country.

  4. 950003cups - Jul 13, 2013 at 10:36 AM

    I don’t know much about Brunner. Except that people here said he’s good. If he’s so expensive with one good year, I’d pass on him. Replacing Kovy (THAT SOB!!) is next to impossible. Unless Stamkos decides Tampa is too warm in the winter and wants out.

    • tbbolts91 - Jul 13, 2013 at 11:16 AM

      Ok ok settle down…

      • 950003cups - Jul 13, 2013 at 1:23 PM

        Sorry, but you currently hold the only guy who could heal our wounds.

  5. credible316 - Jul 13, 2013 at 11:00 AM

    I still can’t believe Brunner is still available. His asking price must be ridiculous.

    • stakex - Jul 13, 2013 at 11:25 AM

      Probably. I mean he averaged about 22-23 goals and 50 points over a full season last year, and solid numbers like that can earn a guy $3-4 million a season generally. Problem for Brunner is he has only played one half season in the NHL, and teams aren’t likely to pay him that kind of money quite yet. I’m not saying it was, but for all we know last year was just a fluke and with teams strapped for cap space… its hard to spend $3-4 million on something that’s not a sure thing.

      • hubeydubeydoo11 - Jul 13, 2013 at 3:55 PM

        Brunner also wants a multi-year deal. Thats a hard gamble for a guy that has played a half season and didnt put up numbers like Ovi or Zetterberg or Crosby. He needs to do a one year “tryout” deal like rask did this last season and prove he deserves a multi-year deal

  6. martysbetter - Jul 13, 2013 at 11:19 AM

    What can we expect from this guy, Wings fans?

    • tmoore4075 - Jul 13, 2013 at 11:40 AM

      No one really knows. He started off red hot and then did nothing. He had a good playoff but that was on the third line on PP. If he’s a top 6 guy maybe he does more but you are also playing against the other teams best D. Wings wanted him back but for around 2.5mil per for 2-3 years. He felt he was worth more.

    • fusionix7 - Jul 13, 2013 at 11:48 AM

      He’s got a great shot with a quick release. I think he needs to be paired with talent to realize his true potential. Forget about defense with him. He needs to forget the toe drag. That’s his go to move in the offensive zone and I think it only worked once this season. It’s really a toss up where his career goes. He started out with a bang then disappeared until the playoffs. If it was just an adjustment to the rigors of the NHL schedule you’ll get a pretty good 2nd line winger.

    • brudders1 - Jul 13, 2013 at 1:40 PM

      He was really good…at times!…He just had problems adjusting to this style hockey….Hell he was trown in and told to score and he did!!…He was great in the playoffs!…But he did struggle half the season thru and did make some dumb plays…struggled on when to change shift….but he got over it….You guys will like him and with experience I believe he will just get better!

    • polegojim - Jul 13, 2013 at 10:31 PM

      Moments of brilliance… but then slumped. Inconsistent.

      Fast but… soft on the puck… plays smaller than he is

      His performance does not demand what he’s asking…

      You all keep talking about what he MIGHT do… Holland does not pay for ‘potential’… and I agree.

    • martysbetter - Jul 14, 2013 at 9:54 AM

      Plays small…soft on the puck…no defense – doesn’t sound like a Devils’ forward.

  7. jimw81 - Jul 13, 2013 at 11:46 AM

    it wuld be funny if devils offersheet Derek Stepan

  8. jimw81 - Jul 13, 2013 at 11:46 AM

    it would be funny if devils offersheet Derek Stepan

    • cofran2004 - Jul 13, 2013 at 12:42 PM

      it would be funny if you were struck by a bus

      • icelovinbrotha215 - Jul 13, 2013 at 1:14 PM

        Now let’s play nice.

      • 950003cups - Jul 13, 2013 at 1:26 PM

        Who cares about Stepan? We lose one of the best snipers of all time and you bring up some kid Derek Stepan?

      • 19to77 - Jul 13, 2013 at 2:01 PM

        Yeah, who wants a Selke contender who’s nearly a point-per-game scorer, amirite? He’s obviously not a fraction the player Kovalchuk is, despite scoring seven more goals, 13 more points, killing penalties and winning faceoffs.

        95003, you seriously need to watch other hockey teams. Living under a rock with the Devils logo on it isn’t doing you any favours.

      • cofran2004 - Jul 13, 2013 at 2:09 PM

        you leave stepan alone! he’s our future superstar. yours wears #17… oh wait…

        still…. leave stepan alone!

        ….and it would be funny if that dude was struck by a bus. i will not back off this stance.

  9. sc0tty2h0tty912 - Jul 13, 2013 at 11:49 AM

    Like tmoore said, 10 goals in the first 19 games…then Zilch for 15 games, fell out of favor with Babs for a little while and was a healthy scratch. Not the best defensively and some say is too soft on the puck. But definitely has the talent to be a pretty good one. Maybe it was just 1st year issues and getting used to the NHL?

    I would have liked him back for sure, but he hasn’t earned what he was asking for IMHO, though Kenny made him reasonable offers.

  10. thecupturnsred - Jul 13, 2013 at 11:54 AM

    Brunner came into the league on fire, playing with Zee during the lockout probably had something to do with that. As soon as the NHL game got fast and physical, after maybe the first 15-20 games, Brunner slowed down and stayed on the perimeter. Hollands two concerns were perimeter play and durability. I watched about 35 wings games last year and would have to agree. Having said that, Brunner has some great skill and can shoot the puck. If you like to be entertained by the occasional highlight reel goal, Brunner will do that. Might be fun to watch with Henrique if he can learn to play with some more… heart, tenacity, grit, recklessness. Pick one of those words. Wish he could have resigned with the wings and kept that third line Nyquist-Andersson-Brunner line for one more year.

    • 950003cups - Jul 13, 2013 at 1:28 PM

      I’m thinking Lou should pass on that kid.

  11. brudders1 - Jul 13, 2013 at 1:33 PM

    Listen Devils fans…This guy is a talented forward who you will love to have on your team….He hasnt played alot over here so he has had to learn hands on!…and he has done well!…he was awesome in the playoffs and he will keep gettin better with experience!…a great talent!….I hope he helps you all out!….Im a diehard Redwings fan and would hate to see him go….But Alfie and Weiss will help me get over it !….Good Luck Brunner!!

  12. modellforprez - Jul 13, 2013 at 2:23 PM

    Just Cause i’ll eat poopandchuck just up and rolled on Satans squad dont mean other cats is gonna.

  13. snipedanglecelly13 - Jul 13, 2013 at 2:27 PM

    Brunner will produce 25-30 goals next season, just calling it now. Wish the wings could’ve kept him. (He wouldn’t produce those numbers on 3rd line tho)

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