Lou Lamoriello never ceases to amaze New Jersey Devil fans with the returning of great New Jersey players of the past. Today, he reacquired center Jason Arnott, one of the key offensive forces in the Devils 2000 Stanley Cup Championship and the man who scored the winning goal in Game 6 of the Final to win New Jersey's second Cup. He was acquired from the Nashville Predators - where Arnott captained a young Preds team to a playoff birth - for prospect Matt Halischuk and a second round pick in the 2011 NHL Draft.
Acquired in 1998 from Edmonton in a trade for Bill Guerin and Valeri Zelepukin, Arnott formed - along with Petr Sykora and Patrik Elias - the vaunted 'A-Line', which led the Devils offensively in their two consecutive Stanley Cup runs in 2000 and 2001. He scored 97 goals with the Devils in the regular season (18 in the postseason) and registered 221 regular season points (41 in playoff action). His best season as a Devil was that 2000 season, when he notched 56 points in the regular season and 20 in 23 playoff games. He was traded (along with Randy McKay) to Dallas at the trade deadline in 2002 for Joe Nieuwendyk and Jamie Langenbrunner. He stayed with Dallas until 2006 until being acquired as a free agent in Nashville. He has one year left on his contract at $4.5 million.
Halischuk, a fourth-round pick of New Jersey in 2007, spent the 2009-10 season up and down between Newark and AHL Lowell. In both leagues, he combined to play 52 games, scoring 12 goals (one at the NHL level), 12 assists (only one NHL) and 24 points. According to Tom Gulitti of The Record, a source indicated that Halischuk was offered by New Jersey to Atlanta in the Ilya Kovalchuk trade, but they were uninterested.
It will be interesting to see what happens now that the Devils have added Arnott's salary. While it does give them a bona fide second-line center for the first time since Scott Gomez vacated as the first line pivot (when Travis Zajac was No. 2) and it provides ample tutoring for the Devils pair of promising young centers, Jacob Josefson and Adam Henrique, who both hope to make an impact at the big-league level this season, it does question the Devils ability to eventually sign Kovalchuk, and makes you wonder if perhaps the Devils have thrown in the towel on the star winger. That said, Arnott was a great player on an average Nashville team, and will likely seamlessly fit again into that Jersey system.