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Sutter satisfied at deadline, Havelid skates in practice

Wednesday, 03.4.2009 / 2:08 PM ET / News
By Eric Marin
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Sutter satisfied at deadline, Havelid skates in practice
email – Brent Sutter said he would follow the NHL’s deadline deals, but not because he expected any moves to be made in New Jersey.

The Devils head coach said Wednesday that he’s happy with his club’s make-up, especially after the addition of veteran defenseman Niclas Havelid.

“It’s certainly a big day, but it’s not something that I lost sleep over last night,” Sutter said. “I’m very comfortable with this group. It’s a very good group. Number one, they’re great guys, and number two, they’re a caring group that wants to succeed. They’ve put a lot of time and commitment into this to become a team.”

Havelid, the newest member of that team, skated Wednesday with Jay Leach, Mike Rupp and Kevin Weekes at AmeriHealth Pavilion. He was acquired Monday with minor-league forward Myles Stoesz from Atlanta in exchange for defenseman Anssi Salmela.

“We’re deep up front, and the one area that’s been discussed has been improved by getting Niclas,” Sutter said. “That’s just nice to have. We have depth in all three areas: in our forward situation, on the back end, and in goal. You never know from here to the end of the season what’s going to happen, that’s why it’s nice to have depth through the run. Where it takes us, who knows? But it’s nice to have.”

Havelid spoke to the media for the first time since arriving in New Jersey.

“I’m really excited,” he said. “It felt good coming here [Tuesday], and we’ll get two good days of practice here before we start back up on Saturday.”

Havelid, a native of Stockholm, Sweden, had two goals and 13 assists in 63 games with Atlanta. He was enthusiastic about his new home.

“If you look right now, it’s one of the top teams in the League,” Havelid said. “It’s a solid team defensively, and that’s where everything starts. If you’re going to win on a regular basis, that’s where it starts: you have to be good defensively. Hopefully, I can be a piece of the puzzle.”

Havelid joins a first-place Devils team that’s on the top of its game with just 18 left to play in the regular season. New Jersey extended its winning streak to four games with a 3-2 overtime win Tuesday at Toronto.

Johnny Oduya scored with 11.4 seconds left in the extra session as the Devils registered a season-high 52 shots on goal and remained undefeated since the return of Martin Brodeur. David Clarkson and Patrik Elias (PP) also scored.

The Devils (42-19-3) won for the 18th time in their last 22 games, and moved two points ahead of Washington for sole possession of second place in the Eastern Conference. They lead the Atlantic Division by nine points over Philadelphia.

Sutter’s Devils will be back in action Saturday at Long Island. Though the coach planned on tuning in to the afternoon’s trade coverage, he was already looking beyond Wednesday’s deadline.

“My job is to coach the individuals in the room, and whatever happens, happens,” Sutter said. “I trust the group we have here and that’s the group that I’m going to work with. If something changes that, then it changes. I, quite honestly, haven’t given any thought about anything else happening here.

"Right now, for me, I’m already thinking about [Thursday's] practice and Friday’s practice getting ready for Saturday with the guys we have.”

Havelid was Bobby Holik’s teammate for three seasons in Atlanta. “Bobby’s a good man, so it’s good to know him here. He knows the organization and he’s been here a long time. It’s good to have him here.”

D Jay Leach has been assigned to Lowell (AHL) for conditioning.