- Scott Burnside, NHL
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The New Jersey Devils weren’t relying just on the good faith of fellow Czechs Patrik Elias and Petr Sykora when they gave up three NHL players and possibly two draft picks to acquire defenseman Marek Zidlicky Thursday night.
Instead president, CEO and GM Lou Lamoriello listened closely to what former head coach Jacques Lemaire had to say. Lemaire coached Zidlicky for a time in Minnesota before closing out his coaching career last season with the Devils.
And Lamoriello took the advice of assistant coach Dave Barr, who for the previous two seasons was an assistant coach with the Minnesota Wild and helped run the power play, on which Zidlicky was a regular participant.
“I don’t know if you could have two better pieces of information,” Lamoriello told ESPN.com Saturday.
The Devils paid a hefty price for the 35-year-old, who had clashed with rookie Wild coach Mike Yeo earlier this season and had been a healthy scratch for parts of the Wild's slump during the last 2 1/2 months.
But Lamoriello wanted more experience along the blue line as the Devils head down the stretch. The Devils are tied for 14th in goals allowed per game, and Zidlicky will be expected to play significant 5-on-5 minutes with a group that includes top rookie defenseman Adam Larsson, 19, and Mark Fayne, 24.
One of the players the Devils sent to Minnesota, Kurtis Foster, had been solid on the power play. Now Zidlicky has to fill that gap, even though he has not scored this season and has just 14 assists in total.
"What he brings is certainly a skill to move the puck and quarterback the power play," Lamoriello said. "We feel that he just brings a little different dimension."
The Devils also gave up Nick Palmieri and Stephane Veilleux and a second-round draft pick in this June’s draft. If the Devils advance to the conference final this spring, they will also kick in a third-round pick in the 2013 draft.
Although picked by many observers to be among a group scrambling for a playoff spot, the Devils actually hit the trade deadline dealing from a position of strength as they currently own the third-highest point total in the Eastern Conference and, as of Saturday, owned home-ice advantage in the first round as the fourth seed.
Head coach Pete DeBoer “and his staff have done an outstanding job,” Lamoriello said.
8dScott Burnside and Craig Custance