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Devils retiring Niedermayer's #27, acquire D Foster, expect C Zajac back

The New Jersey Devils seemed to be playing better hockey lately.  They've won 4 out of their last 5 games and have even started scoring goals and outplaying teams consistently recently.  This week is also particularly significant for the Devils because they've added a piece to their team that they really haven't had in a long time: an offensively-minded defenseman. 

It comes in the person of Kurtis Foster, who leaves the Anaheim Ducks in a 4-player trade.  Ducks minor league goaltender Timo Pielmeier, who scored a goal in the East Coast Hockey League once, and Foster have been traded to New Jersey in exchange for forward Rod Pelley, defenseman Mark Fraser and a 2012 seventh round draft pick.  The trade gives the Devils another power play option and lets Ilya Kovalchuk play lower on the ice, and also gives Fraser and Pelley a better chance to get in the lineup on a regular basis in the NHL with Anaheim.

Speaking of offensive defenseman, one of the greatest to ever play the game will have his number retired by the New Jersey Devils this coming Friday.  Scott Niedermayer, a winner at every level he played at, will be honored by the Devils as just the third player to ever have his number retired by New Jersey, joining 3-time Stanley Cup Champions Scott Stevens and Ken Daneyko.  Niedermayer, along with Stevens, Daneyko, Sergei Brylin and Martin Brodeur, are the five players who have won all three of the Devils' championships.

The final piece of good news for the Devils at the moment is that top center Travis Zajac is likely to make his season debut this Friday when the Devils retire Niedermayer's number and host the Dallas Stars following the ceremony.  Zajac's torn achilles in the off-season snapped a franchise-record 400+ consecutive games played streak on Opening Night this season.  Whether he returns Friday or Saturday when the Devils visit Montreal, Zajac and Parise will be in the same lineup for just the second game since early November of 2010 when Parise tore his meniscus and played just one of the team's final 69 games.

Finally, the Devils will be without defensemen Andy Greene (toe injury) for at least three more weeks and Anton Volchenkov (hand injury) for about another week.  Alexander Urbom and Matt Taormina had been called up from AHL's Albany to replace them, but Kurtis Foster's arrival has bumped Urbom out of the lineup for the time being.  The Devils won in Foster's New Jersey debut last night in a shootout in Florida.

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