On Sunday, Larry Brooks of the Post had a column comparing Martin Brodeur's decision to sign a new agent to negotiate for him as a free agent with machinations during his acrimonious 1995 contract spat with the team.
It was just plausible enough to play into the idea that the theme of this offseason was going to be déjà vu. The Rangers were looking to trade for Rick Nash, the Islanders were signing players to contracts just to reach the minimum salary floor and the Devils were fighting with their goalie.
Alas, Brodeur has re-signed since Brooks' column and it seems the whole thing was just a ploy to get a second year out of the Eastern Conference champs. Brodeur behind a different defense would be like seeing Derek Jeter on the Red Sox, which makes this a good development even if it appears to ruin our theme party.
But we can sub in a different recurring Devils subplot for Brodeur. Zach Parise is still talking to the team, but there are other bidders coming hard and most people feel that the Devils' current economic hardships will cause Parise to look elsewhere for his best chance to win a Stanley Cup.
Stars leaving as free agents because of money issues is about as old as stories get for the Devils franchise, but it doesn't look like Devils fans will be forced to watch Parise skating at Madison Square Garden. Memories of Scott Gomez and Bobby Holik probably help Rangers fans from getting too upset about that.
They are more interested in what happens with Nash, the Blue Jackets forward they chased before the trading deadline before walking away from an inflated price tag. The price hasn't come down, and Columbus is trying to gin up interest from other teams, but the Rangers still don't seem interested in adding Ryan McDonagh, Chris Kreider or Derek Stepan to the offer.
The same appears to be true of trade talks involving Anaheim forward Bobby Ryan, another player who would give the Rangers the extra offensive juice they were missing in the playoffs. Trading Kreider or McDonagh has to remain a dealbreaker for just about anyone in the league, but Stepan isn't quite so clear-cut.
Upgrading the talented but inconsistent Stepan for a more reliable scoring model would be a big boost to a team that's not going to have Marian Gaborik early in the season. Hesitation comes from whether or not Stepan will outgrow being erratic, but the upside of that probably doesn't equal the chance to win a Stanley Cup.
Hard decisions, no matter how familiar they might seem. There are easier ones, too, although they also involve saying goodbye to old friends.
Brandon Prust is taking his talents to Montreal after the Canadians made him an offer that was too rich for the Rangers to match. They've signed Aaron Asham, a veteran who has now been a member of all five Atlantic Division clubs, to do some of the dirty work that Prust took care of last season.
So not everything is a repeat of an old song, it just seems that way.