If what has been reported is true then Carmelo Anthony is the newest member of the New Jersey Brooklynites. Oh what a dream come true might I add. The NBA is a superstar driven league and frankly the Nets didn't have one. Now I've heard some people yapping about how they shouldn't have given up Harris and Favors. Listen folks maybe Favors will turn out to be a good player but they kid is a rookie has proven nothing. he could be Tim Duncan or he could be Emeka Okafor and from what I've seen and heard about him I'm more inclined to believe he's closer to Okafor then Duncan. A serviceable rebounder who will net 10-15 points and block a shot here or there. Fact is though with Brook Lopez and Troy Murphy on board there wasn't really a place for him to fit in early on in NJ. He's a project player who happened to be drafted number two overall.
The "loss" of Harris will be felt early on but to me the whole trade signifies that there is a longer term plan in place here with the Nets. Which is very fitting for the Nets considering the team will be in limbo for the next two years while they wait to move into the new arena in Brooklyn. And thats what the Nets are aiming for. Their goal isn't to be a contender this year, it's to make an impact when the team is set and ready to move into that grand new cathedral to the team. This trade when coupled with the Murphy trade early on in the summer has the Nets primed to make that run for Chris Paul.
As I mentioned before the NBA is a superstar league and that was clearly showcased with the whole Miami Heat spectacle this offseason and the last few NBA champions, Lakers and Celts being loaded with big name players. Superstars attract other superstars. Lebron isn't going to Miami if Wade isn't, Bosh wouldn't go to Cleveland without Lebron, ect ect ect. The Nets getting Carmelo opens up entire new avenues for them in free agency and beyond and I think that is what ultimately swayed Melo into agreeing to the trade. The Nets set their plan in front of him and he knows exactly how the league works. The Nets have the cap space for one if not two more stars and they have their own developing star in Lopez. The owner wants to win and he has the money and commitment to do it all he needed was that first piece to fall into place. He struck out in free agency but he ended up getting his man via trade. The gears are turning now. The Nets future hasn't been this bright, well ever, even during the Kidd years. Should be a good show for the next couple of years.
On a more important note hockey season is here and the preseason is in full swing. Unlike the NBA and NFL the preseason has some meaning for us hockey fans. The NHL is very much a developmental league much like MLB and this offers fans from all around the country to get a brief glimpse of what the future has in store for our favourite clubs. It also gives us our first look at our newest toys for the long and boring offseason in the media barren NHL.
This year for Devils fans that means Ilya Kovalchuk, Anton Volchenkov, and Henrik Tallinder. Three players that are all going to have a big impact on the success of this upcoming season. It isn't very often the Devils make a splash in the offseason, normally settling for role players and depth while other teams spend themselves into oblivion. It's been the Devils philosophy for years to develop from within and add to the roster via trade and it worked for nearly 15 years. They have been one of the most successful franchises in all of pro sports since the early 90's and one of the few to have achieved the continual successes year after year missing the playoffs only once since 1990 and winning 3 Stanley Cup Championships over that span.
But the times are changing in the NHL. The salary cap forces teams to mix high priced superstars with cheap rookies in order to be successful during the playoffs. Having a team full of depth now only gets you so far in the a league dominated by elite scorers. Gone are the times you can win a championship with the likes of Eric Cole, Shawn Horcoff, or Jeff Friesen, at least it seems that way over the course of the last several seasons. So the Devils have finally decided to adapt to this new philosophy.
It started late last year with Lou Lamoriello sensing his team needed something extra to be a contender pulling off an absolute stunner of a deal that landed the Devils the second leading scorer since 2001 and shocked the NHL. The Devils don't make those kinds of deals, until now. Ilya didn't exactly fit in right away however, with blamed being placed anywhere from his character to Lemaire's coaching style not meshing with an offensive dynamo like Kovalchuk. Regardless Mr. Lamoriello liked what he saw out of Ilya and went on his pursuit to retain his services. But before he can bring him back in he has some other tricks up his sleeve.
First was letting home grown talent Paul Martin walk via free agency without even attempting to resign him. Martin is generally regarded as a top pairing dman but has battled some injuries over his career. Regardless he walked over to division rival Pittsburgh to replace aging star Sergei Gonchar. He didn't let Martin walk with out a plan however. Lou was hard at work working on contracts for both Anton Volchenkov, the big bodied shot blocking Russian dman, and the smooth skating veteran mentor Henrik Tallinder. Volchenkov addressed a need much overlooked by the Devils post Scott Stevens, a physical dman who can clear out opposing players from in front of the net. Tallinder on the other hand is a kind of do it all but nothing flashy type player who purpose is to help ease the loss of Martin while helping out young fellow swedes Jacob Josefson and Alex Urbom as they potentially ease their way on to the NHL roster, much as he did last year with Calder winning defensive partner Tyler Myers. However Lou can't completely abandon his old mentality so he did as he has the last few years and dipped back into his old well of players who once played for him and the Devils and re-acquired Jason Arnott, the centerman of the famed A-Line and scorer of the game winning OT goal during the deciding game 6 of the 2000 finals.
Those moves are all a departure from the Devils of recent and have re-energized the fan base in Newark. There is a buzz about the team, a buzz that hasn't been felt since those A-Line days where the Devils were far and away the most talented team on the ice night in and night out. And we've gotten a look at some of what is to be already in the preseason. Elias and Arnott are reunited and looked like they have the same chemistry they had 10 years ago and the new Parise-Zajac-Kovalchuk line dazzled in their debut against the rangers combining for 7 points and scoring all 3 Devils goals. Thats just the taste to wet our appetites as the regular season quickly approaches. Hockey fans from all over the country have something to be excited about and I for one am looking forward to a fantastic upcoming season.