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Lamoriello: No rebuild, but moves possible

by Mike G. Morreale / New Jersey Devils

NEWARK, N.J. -- New Jersey Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello discussed the season and hinted of some possible maneuvering at the NHL Trade Deadline following his team's morning skate at Prudential Center on Friday.

Lamoriello said it has long been his belief that winning low-scoring games behind solid defense is the formula for a championship season. He would know since he was the architect of three Stanley Cup titles in New Jersey (1995, 2000, 2003).

At the same time, he understands that frustration with regard to the lack of goal-scoring, particular over the past five games. The Devils haven't scored more than one goal in a game since Feb. 7, a 6-2 loss against the Montreal Canadiens.

"I know you have to score goals so I don't want to be misinterpreted or misrepresent how important it is to score goals but we know the way our teams have had success in the past; from the goalie out," Lamoriello said. "When our young defense gets more mature, it will help us create offensively."

Lamoriello went on to talk about the difficulty associated with the current transition period in New Jersey. He stressed that this is not a rebuilding phase.

"You always do things to get to that championship situation and along the way there are some growing pains and we made a transition that is on me to go with young defensemen earlier in the year," Lamoriello said. "Unfortunately one of our young defenseman [Damon Severson] gets hurt but that's nobody's fault. They are growing and gaining experience and in the big picture it's going to be something that's a foundation."

Lamoriello was then asked if he feels every player is on board with that "transition."

"You always try and get players who believe in what you're trying to do and believe in the philosophy and you draft and develop them that way," he said. "I think that if you look at our defense, they all think and know what has to be done. They're all different dimensional types of players but we have to generate more offense and we have to add a few pieces there."

Lamoriello, whose team trails the Boston Bruins for the second wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference by 12 points with 25 games remaining in the regular season, has no regrets of trying to get younger and quicker along the blue line. He continued to reiterate that the Devils are not in a rebuilding mode and never will be.

"The decision made with our defense is done they are going through the transition; you go a couple steps back sometimes before you move forward," Lamoriello said.

Lamoriello pointed to young defenseman Eric Gelinas and how he is learning and is trying to do the things the coaches ask of him. He praised how far Adam Larsson has come, the maturation of Jon Merrill and promising future of Severson, and the leadership provided all season by Andy Greene and Marek Zidlicky.

"I don't think you tear it down by any means; that's not in the philosophy of this organization nor do I think that's something that can be done in this day and age," Lamoriello said. "You don't just simply tear it down because of free agency and the way the draft is structured. It's almost impossible to do if you think like that. We made a decision at the NHL Draft a couple of years ago when we had the opportunity to acquire Cory Schneider and we did [for a first-round draft pick]."

Prior to the Devils sending the No. 9 pick to the Vancouver Canucks in exchange for Schneider at the 2013 NHL Draft, the young but experienced goaltender was a usual target of trade rumors. He understands the business side of the game despite the fact it is tough for players.

"I don't like to use the word rebuild either because it's a resignation that it's OK not to succeed for a given amount of time and I don't think that really works in New Jersey," Schneider said. "I don't think we want to believe that or hear that. Sometimes a team falls short of their goals or it doesn't go nearly the way you would have liked so changes have to be made at some point. Whether it's a wholesale change or just plug a few pieces, who knows."

Schneider went on to say that the goalie is just one piece to a big puzzle. He wouldn't speculate on what the Devils should or shouldn't do at the deadline, however.

"I think the thought was rather than getting a guy who was 21- or 22-years-old that they would get me to step in and continue the process of success [on defense]," Schneider said. "We're disappointed with the season we've had. I wasn't brought in for transitional purposes; rather, just continuing the success they had [when Martin Brodeur was with the team]."

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