The 2010-2011 Season Review: Arnott’s Second Tour Ends In A Trade
Instead of doing a player review for David Steckel, who met the required criteria for the review (over 50 games played) but not with the New Jersey Devils (18 games played), I decided to review the trade of Jason Arnott to the Washington Capitals. The player reviews will continue with Patrik Elias.
Jason Arnott holds a special place in New Jersey Devils’ history. His double-overtime, game-winning goal against the Dallas Stars in 2000 won the organization it’s second Stanley Cup championship, creating a mini-dynasty in the meadowlands.
This season, with a need for a second-line center, Devils’ general manager Lou Lamoriello turned back to Arnott. He traded Matt Halischuk and a second-round pick in this year’s draft, a small fee for a consistent 20-goal scorer who could finally provide some secondary offense. Fans and analysts dreamed of the possibilities created by reuniting Arnott with Patrik Elias, forming two-thirds of the famed “A-Line.”
Arnott began the season hot, collecting 12 points over the first two months. The Devils couldn’t produce offensively, but Arnott carried the team. He became the one consistent threat on a team of underachievers. As the team slipped farther and farther down the standings, rumblings off who could be traded began to circulate. Reporters naturally gravitated toward veterans, and Arnott became one of those targets.
The Devils’ center didn’t hide his true feelings – he wanted to play for a contender. The picture became cloudy when the Devils’ made their wild second-half run, complicating Arnott’s decision.
“It’s going to be a real tough decision because then I’ve got to gamble on whether we’re going to win out, win the rest of the season or try to get on a playoff team,” Arnott told Tom Gulitti of The Bergen Record. “As it gets closer, it will become more clear and we’ll see what we do.”
Clearly, the second half run wasn’t enough. Arnott decided to waive his no-trade clause, and Lamoriello moved him to the Washington Capitals during the February 28th trade deadline. In his place came David Steckel and a second-round pick in the 2012 draft. Arnott got his wish, moving to a contending team. The Devils received some salary-cap relief and one of the best faceoff men in the entire league.
The trade didn’t really hurt New Jersey. It was an admission of the impossibility of making the playoffs, but that deals with the team’s pride. They didn’t just give him away either. Steckel can provide value as a fourth-line center and penalty-killer. He finished with a 56.2% winning percentage on faceoffs, displaying the true value he brings. He won’t provide much offense, but he can be a capable checking forward.
In a season of disappointment, Arnott got his shot at the Cup. He didn’t make it, but he deserves the opportunity. Some saw it as jumping ship, others saw it as turning on his team. But in the end, the move made sense for everyone involved. Arnott left and reached the playoffs, the Devils’ got cap relief and something back for the impending unrestricted free agent.