With Mike Mottau signing with the New York Islanders today, fresh faces will be seen this year on the blue line for the New Jersey Devils. In his three years with the Devils, Mike Mottau became a trusted defensemen who provides solid defense on the back pairing. Not a lot of speed or tremendous skill, Mottau was a prototypical lunch pail defensemen who made a name for himself with hard work.
How this affects the Devils going forward
At times, Mottau was taken for granted because he was not flashy and did not put up the points you want to see in a puck moving defensemen. For a stay-at-home, defensive defensemen, the less you notice them the better. Chances are if you did, they got beat.
One thing Mottau was counted on the last few years was to play a solid chunk of minutes. Watching the game, he does not appear to play that much as he does. Being a stay-at-home defensemen, that is what you hope for. Playing on the penalty kill was also something Mottau took part in. Finding a replacement for Mottau may not be as easy as it seems.
The current Devils defense consists of, Anton Volchenkov, Andy Greene, Henrik Tallinder, Colin White, Bryce Salvador, and Marc Fraser. Annsi Salmela will sit out the start of the season after having surgery on his torn ACL. With the salary cap problems the Devils have, one of Colin White/Bryce Salvador most likely be moved prior to the season.
The Devils have a few young defensemen who are looking to stick around in NJ when training camp ends. Matt Corrente (NJ's first round selection in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft) plays a very fierce, aggressive, physical game and gets the most out of his 6'0" 200 pound frame. Corrente will take quite a few unnecessary penalties, something the Devils will surely try to decrease.
If New Jersey's seventh round pick in the 2004 draft, does not catch on this year with the Devils, he may never make it. Tyler Eckford was a converted forward that possesses excellent puck moving skills and is a very smooth skater. Eckford needs to improve on his play in his own zone to make the team this year. Being able to pitch in on the power play may help his chances.
When you mention 'Alex Urbom' to Devils fans who follow their prospects, you should see a their ears perk up with excitement. The big 6'3" blue liner from Sweden throws huge hits and has a pretty strong shot. One of the only things going against Urbom is that he is still very young, the Devils third round pick in 2009. If he makes New Jersey and plays more than 9 games, he can no longer go back to juniors and at 19 is a year too young to play in the AHL.
It would not be surprising for all of these players to spend time in New Jersey this year because of injury call-ups and such. The Devils defense has been lacking in the last couple years, it will be interesting to see if the kids can inject some energy into the team this year.