The New Jersey Devils sent 36-year-old center Jason Arnott packing this afternoon, shipping the veteran to the Washington Capitals for center David Steckel and a second-round pick in 2012. The trade was first reported by Sportsnet.
The Capitals were looking for a second-line center and they believe Arnott fits the bill. Arnott was looking to be sent to a team with better Stanley Cup chances than New Jersey -- and he'll also see his wish granted, even waiving his no-trade clause to get the job done. The market for centers this trade deadline must have been shallow; with only 13 goals and 11 assists on the year, Washington envisions Arnott fitting in as their second-best center -- plus they gave up a second-round pick as well. At this point in his career, Arnott is better served as a third liner, but the Capitals were desperate it appears.
Steckel, 28, is a superb faceoff man with some great size at 6-foot-5, 222 pounds. He is far from a scorer, though, with five goals and six assists on the season -- and a 19-point campaign being his career best. He likely fills a bottom-six forward role for the Devils as he certainly doesn't have the offensive upside of Arnott. He was averaging 11:34 a game with the Capitals.
The best part of the deal for New Jersey, though, may be that it acquired a second-rounder for a player that will be a free agent at season's end and is approaching the end of his career. If you're New Jersey, you can't go wrong with adding a high pick and bringing in a capable body for Arnott, but does this waive the white flag for the Devils' playoff chances?
General manager Lou Lamoriello: "Exactly the opposite," Lamoriello said in a conference call when Rich Chere of The Star-Ledger asked if he had given up on this season. "Not even a question.
"We will continue to do what we have done, which is take one day at a time and give it a try. Just play a game at a time. Let the end result take care of itself."