I haven’t written much about Brendan Shanahan joining the Devils but seeing as how he’s expected to suit-up in Nashville tonight, it seems like a good time.
Devils coach Brent Sutter hasn’t announced who Shanahan will replace in the line-up, but it seems to be down to fourth-liners Jay Pandolfo and Mike Rupp.
Pandolfo used to be a mainstay of the checking line, back when the Devils used one, matching up against some of the league’s best players. But with Sutter’s less defense-oriented system, there hasn’t been much of a role for Pandolfo.
And that’s what makes Shanahan such a great fit for the Devils. He can play defensively, much like a traditional third-line forward, but he also has some offensive potential. So basically, Shanahan is a Rupp or Pandolfo, but with a lot more scoring upside.
The Devils will probably use Shanahan mostly as a special teams guy, but Sutter has to breathe a little easier knowing he has a genuine goal-scorer hanging out on his fourth-line.
Obviously, Shanahan has lost some of his scoring touch and I don’t think this massive layoff did anything to improve his skills, but he’s not going to be expected to play 25 minutes a night on the top line. I suspect Sutter is going to use him as a defensive player who can take advantage of opposing teams’ mistakes.
The Devils have been hot lately and Shanahan is only going to give them more options. I suspect this season is going to be a nice cherry on Shanahan’s 200 year NHL career. This reminds me a lot of Bryan Trottier joining the Penguins in 1990: a past-his-prime NHL star with no place else to go, willing to do whatever it takes in whatever role to push his team forward.
Also, tonight in Tampa, the Dallas Stars meet a Lightning team with a lot of friends and former teammates. To read Mike Heika’s preview for the game, you would think they were going to show NORTH AND SOUTH between periods.
I’m on Twitter, too, but I don’t think that’s as significant.