Skip to content

Will getting older, bigger up front help New Jersey score goals?

Aug 23, 2013, 3:05 PM EDT

Jaromir Jagr Getty Images

On paper, the scenario didn’t look good.

The New Jersey Devils — who finished last year with the third-fewest goals for (110) in the league — watched former 30-goal man David Clarkson sign in Toronto this summer, then had their most prolific sniper, Ilya Kovalchuk, abruptly retire.

Those subtractions alone were reason for pessimism.

In response, Devils GM Lou Lamoriello took an interesting approach to solving those offensive woes — he went targeted older, bigger and more experienced players.

Quite a few of them, actually.

Lamoriello’s biggest splash came by signing Ryane Clowe to a five-year, $24.25 million deal.

Clowe, who turns 31 in September, averaged 20 goals per season from 2008-12.

The savviest move might’ve been inking 33-year-old Michael Ryder to a two-year, $7 million pact. Though he’s been cast aside a few times in his career, Ryder’s goalscoring ability cannot be denied — he had 16 in 48 games last year and 35 in 82 games two seasons ago.

Lamoreillo’s most publicized move, though, was inking Jaromir Jagr.

Jagr, 41, is still producing at a clip most players would envy. His 35 points last year would’ve put him second on the Devils, one shy of Patrik Elias‘ team-leading 36 — and that came during a season in which Jagr estimates he played over 100 games all told.

The Jagr deal — bringing on the NHL’s second-oldest skater — embodied New Jersey’s overall offseason approach, as Lamoriello also re-upped with 35-year-old Dainius Zubrus and 37-year-old Elias, giving the Devils a forward makeup filled with veterans. Of the club’s “top 12” forwards, only Adam Henrique and Andrei Loktionov are under the age of 28.

But the question remains: Can relying so heavily on bigger, older players work in the current NHL?

According Lamoriello, experience teamed with the size (Clowe, Jagr and Zubrus are all at least 6-foot-2 and 225 pounds) should work just fine.

“We like our team right now,” he told the Associated Press. “Certainly our goaltending is improved. Our defence is improved because of the experience of the young guys and up front we are going to be a four-line team.

“We have power-play people and penalty killers. This will be one of the bigger teams we’ve had.”

  1. thecheeman - Aug 23, 2013 at 3:31 PM

    Resigning Zubrus when he’s not that good and was injured all last year was not wise.

  2. 950003cups - Aug 23, 2013 at 3:54 PM

    It’s a rebuild year. Maybe next year as well. Matteau will learn a lot from Jagr.

    • thecheeman - Aug 26, 2013 at 9:07 AM

      This is not a rebuild year. Lou is clearly trying to piece together a squad that can compete in Marty’s last go-round.

  3. tarotsujimoto74 - Aug 23, 2013 at 4:05 PM

    This is going to be a bottom five team without a first rounder.

  4. handsofsweed - Aug 23, 2013 at 7:10 PM

    What’s with the Viggo Mortensen pic?

  5. billyhauntswizards - Aug 23, 2013 at 11:15 PM

    what the Devils did this summer reminds me of when the Glen Sather thought signing older free agents was the way to solve NYR’s problems. Very uncharacteristic of Lou, I woulda thought he had more up his sleeve than signing Jagr, Clowe, and Ryder?

Top 10 NHL Player Searches
  1. P. Kessel (1585)
  2. P. Kane (1517)
  3. M. Richards (1322)
  4. P. Datsyuk (1173)
  5. N. Backstrom (1062)