Devils could save season by dealing … Brodeur

Yesterday’s victory over the Flyers that represented a 360 from Friday’s folly on Long Island does not change Devils Surgeon General Lou Lamoriello’s mandate going forward, for though his team went 3-1 last week, the GM’s primary obligation is to conduct hockey triage the rest of the way in order to build the best club possible for next year.

That doesn’t mean John MacLean won’t or shouldn’t coach to win each night and it doesn’t mean the athletes who lace them up have any obligation beyond climbing out of this ditch they’ve dug and making a run at eighth place.

Still, whether Lamoriello or owner Jeff Vanderbeek cares for the notion, getting the gate from a handful of playoff dates should not be management’s primary objective. Rather, the Devils’ mission should be to confine the damage to this season before reasserting themselves next season as upper-echelon contenders.

That’s how the Flyers and GM Paul Holmgren approached matters in 2006-07 after getting off to starts of 1-6-1, 5-12-2, 8-15-4 and ultimately 8-24-4 on their way to a 30th-overall, 22-48-12 season that earned the club the second overall pick in the draft after the Blackhawks won the lottery. And just imagine Philadelphia today with Patrick Kane rather than James Van Riemsdyk.

The Devils’ situation is slightly different, in that Zach Parise, Martin Brodeur and Jamie Langenbrunner have all been sidelined for substantial periods of time. The front office can dream that when healthy, the Devils will fulfill the manifest destiny projected by a nitwit on this paper, but that would be shortsighted indeed, because there is no indication the Devils and Ilya Kovalchuk have figured out how to maximize his effectiveness on a team that seems chemistry-free whenever the soloist is on the ice.

Holmgren had one ace to play, and that was Peter Forsberg as a rental. His trade to Nashville that ultimately brought back Scottie Upshall, Kimmo Timonen and Scott Hartnell represented the underpinning of the immediate 2007-08 revival.

Lamoriello doesn’t quite have that ace. What he has on his team are nine players with no-trade clauses who would have to be massaged in order to be moved — impending free agents Jamie Langenbrunner and Jason Arnott are worthy — and what he has is Martin Brodeur.

Understand, the only way a Brodeur trade becomes a part of the conversation is if the all-time goaltender himself initiates the conversation with Lamoriello.

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