Brendan Shanahan participated in his first official practice with the New Jersey Devils on Thursday in Columbus. After signing a one-year $800,000 pro-rated contract on Wednesday, Shanahan flew to Columbus with GM Lou Lamoriello and is speculated to be inserted into the line-up in the next week.
The signing of the veteran forward has sparked speculation of which forward may be watching from the stands once Shanahan is ready to be inserted into the line-up. Shanahan's presence will put pressure on several Devils forwards to step-up their games, but the most effected may be John Madden.
Madden, who is set to become a restricted free-agent after the season, has been mediocre at best this season. After posting a 20 goal season in 2007-2008, he has 4 goals and 8 assists in 37 games this season.
The 10 veteran, all as a New Jersey Devil, has seen his ice time and role diminish under Brent Sutter. The time when you would see John Madden checking the other team top line has become a distant memory as Sutter leads the Devils into the new NHL. This season has seen the long time duo of Madden and Pandolfo separated, Madden go through a 24 game goal scoring drought and at times even seen him relegated to the fourth line. Not something that you would expect for the center who will be playing between two scoring wingers in Rolston and Shanahan.
Lamoriello and Sutter both understand that to be a top contender for the Stanley Cup, you need three lines that can score and play defense. The addition of Shanahan gives the Devils the potential of three productive scoring lines, depending on how John Madden plays at center with the veteran duo of Shanahan and Rolston.
There has been speculation that Madden, who's career high was 23 assists, may be moved by the trading deadline and replaced with a playmaking center. So after 10 years with the Devils, John Madden's future with the organization will all depend on how much offense he can produce over the next few weeks.