NEWS: Lou Lamoriello Updates Devils’ Pending Free Agents

Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello gave an update to Rich Chere on some of the team’s pending free agents Wednesday.

Lamoriello said pending UFA Steve Sullivan won’t be re-signed due to his age and pending RFA Matt D’Agostini will not be retained because of his high qualifying offer ($1.8 million).

The Devils would like to retain defenseman Peter Harrold, who will be unrestricted. Lamoriello also said he’ll address Alexei Ponikarovksy after dealing with Patrik Elias, Dainius Zubrus, David Clarkson and Marek Zidlicky.

Corey Griffin

None of this should sound surprising. The Devils like Harrold as an extra defenseman/swing forward and Poni will be a luxury decision after the Devils deal with their core group of free agents. Neither Sullivan nor D’Agostini added enough after joining the Devils to justify occupying a roster spot heading into training camp. What this does show is Devils fans should expect a healthy amount of roster competition in camp next year, which is a good thing for a team that largely lacked depth up front.

Devilish Decisions: Alexei Ponikarovsky

Pat Pickens

021313_ponikarovsky_600

This is a series of posts on the Devils’ pending free agents (restricted and unrestricted). We’ll cover their strengths and weaknesses and end up with a final verdict on whether we think the Devils should re-sign the player. There will also be a poll at the end of each post so you guys can weigh in with your thoughts.

Position: Left Wing
Age: 33
2013 statistics: 30 games with NJ/2 goals, 5 assists, 7 points, minus-2 rating, 8 PIMs
Free-agent status: Unrestricted
2012-13 salary/cap hit: $1.8 million/$1.8 million (via Cap Geek)
Team history: Acquired in 2013 trade with Winnipeg Jets for conditional 2013 draft pick. Played in 33 games with the Devils during 2011-12 season, amassing 18 points.

What he brings: Ponikarovsky was a great checking-line forward in the Devils’ 2012 run to the Stanley Cup Finals. He scored a few timely goals this season and brings the always valubale “jam” to the lineup. ‘Poni’ also is a good dressing room leader and can play on any line.

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This Date In Devils History– May 3

Even though the Devils’ 2013 season is over, we can still look back at some great moments in New Jersey’s playoff history.

On May 3…

2001- New Jersey is soundly dismantled in game 4 by the Toronto Maple Leafs 3-1 at Air Canada Centre, evening the best-of-seven Eastern Conference semifinals at 2 games apiece.

Unfortunately– for both Leafs and Devils fans alike– the game is remembered more for this:

2012- Alexei Ponikarovsky scores at 17:19 of the first overtime, lifting the Devils to a 4-3 win over the Philadelphia Flyers in game 3 of the Eastern Conference semifinals.

The overtime win gives the Devils a 2-1 edge in the series.

Gameday: Penguins at Devils (4/25/13)

Who: Pittsburgh Penguins at New Jersey Devils
When: 7:30 p.m. ET; Pregame show at 7 p.m. ET
Where: Prudential Center, Newark, NJ
Media: TV – MSG-Plus, NBC Sports Network (Channel listings); RadioBloomberg (1130 AM)
Twitter: @Pat_Pickens

Stats & Notes (via Devils PR)

  • New Jersey will close out the home portion of its 2012-13 schedule tonight. The Devils are 18-8-3 in their previous 29 home finales. New Jersey is 6-0-1 in its last seven home-closers (last loss, April 4, 2004 vs. Boston, 3-1).
  • With their win Tuesday night vs. Montreal, the Devils posted consecutive home victories for the first time since winning three straight March 7-13.
  • Tuesday vs. Montreal, New Jersey improved to 14-1-4 when scoring first this season. The Devils are 4-17-6 on the year when allowing the first goal.
  • On Tuesday, New Jersey scored twice on the power play for the fourth time this season and the first time since March 21 at Carolina.
  • Johan Hedberg will make the start in goal tonight, his first since March 19 vs. the New York Rangers.
  • Patrik Elias scored his team-leading (tie, David Clarkson) 14th goal of the season Tuesday. It was his fifth on the power play which also ties him with Clarkson for team lead.
  • Also Tuesday, Jacob Josefson scored his first goal since March 29, 2012 vs. Tampa Bay.
  • Steve Sullivan recorded 1g-1a-2pts Tuesday for this first multiple-point game as a Devil since February 15, 1997 at Montreal.

Expected Lineup

Forwards

Henrique-Loktionov-Kovalchuk
Elias-Zajac-Clarkson
Zubrus-Josefson-Sullivan
Carter-Gionta-Kostopoulos

Defense

Greene-Larsson
Volchenkov-Zidlicky
Harrold-Gelinas

Goalie

Hedberg

Inactives: Barch, Bernier, Ponikarovsky, Urbom, D’Agostini, Gelinas, Pesonen, Sislo

Sidelined: Salvador (wrist), Fayne (nagging injury)

Playing Out The String: Tonight is the Devils’ 24th and last regular-season game of 2013. New Jersey is 12-9-2 in its previous 23.

New Jersey has also sold out 18 of those 23 games. With the popular Pens coming to town, expect a 19th sellout on Thursday.

Wings Clipped: The Penguins are still without forwards Sidney Crosby and James Neal, who have been sidelined much of this month with injuries. Defenseman Paul Martin is also injured and will not play.

The End?: Elias, Clarkson, Dainius Zubrus and Marek Zidlicky are all unrestricted free agents at season’s end and tonight could be each player’s last home game as a Devil.

Elias is the franchise’s all-time scoring leader, Clarkson has become a fan-favorite, Zubrus has been here six years — I know, time flies — and Zidlicky’s the team’s only offensive defenseman.

Sullivan and Alexei Ponikarovsky will also be UFAs, and the Devils have six restricted free agent candidates too. This team could look very different next year.

Postgame Thoughts: Devils 3, Flyers 0 (4/18/13)

Corey Griffin

Links: Pregame thread | Twitter | NHL.com recap

Did the Devils play an A-plus game? No. I’d argue they played a couple better overall games during the 10-game winless streak. But the important thing is the streak is over and the Devils are back in the win column thanks to a few superlative efforts. It likely won’t get the Devils back in the playoff chase, but a couple wins over the last 10 days would be important for their confidence heading into the offseason. Some thoughts…

It’s over: Everyone can breathe a big sign of relief. The winless streak is finally over and it didn’t even take Ilya Kovalchuk returning to finally stop it. Of course, like I said above, this wasn’t a perfect game. They struggled to put pucks on net in the first and had difficulty finishing in the second before Ryan Carter snapped one of Ilya Bryzgalov’s shoulder. But the important thing was the Devils kept working in two very important areas: the neutral zone and below the Flyers’ goal line. The Devils did a good job in long stretches of stopping the Flyers at the blue line and both of the Devils even-strength goals came as a result of their work in the neutral zone. As for the forecheck, it was strong almost all night long. The Devils generated a ton of chances off their pressure below the goal line and it eventually wore down Philly’s defense. While the Devils aren’t talented enough to out-skill teams, they are dedicated and strong enough to out-work them. It’s a long shot, but wins like this are the kind of victories that send a team to length winning streaks. The Devils worked their way past an inferior opponent to a streak-busting victory and were rewarded after several games in which they played well but didn’t win.

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Lineup Changes: Tallinder In For Larsson

Adam Larsson took a shot off his leg at practice Tuesday and won’t be in the lineup Wednesday night. He’ll be replaced by Henrik Tallinder, which is not the only change in Pete DeBoer’s lineup.

Corey Griffin

Once again Pete DeBoer is shuffling multiple bodies in and out of the lineup. It’s a trick he’s tried multiple times this season to varying effect. There’s been games where the “trick” has sparked the club or seen a player skate like his ass is on fire, but that’s usually just a one- or two-game fix. Mostly, it’s been a short-term, half-torn, blood-stained bandaid over a gaping wound. They Devils have been searching for a left wing on the first line all season. They’ve been trying to find six reliable defensemen (despite having eight on the roster) all season. They’ve looked for reliable third- and fourth-line wingers while trying to find anybody with a 20-goal scoring touch (Hello, Matt D’Agostini). None of it works. This is all very “deck chairs on the Titanic” rather than trying to find a combination that works. If there were one, DeBoer would’ve found it by now.

I understand health is an issue with Zubrus, Ponikarovsky and Kovalchuk missing large chunks of time this season. Yet only one of those players should actually be playing on the top line. The other two are basically duplicates, although I’d argue Zubrus is a better version of Ponikarovsky. Josefson, Tedenby and Butler never turned out the way the Devils hopes, while Clarkson and Zajac have taken offensive nosedives. When there’s no answers on the roster, it’s nearly impossible to find solutions — no matter how many times you shuffle the cards.

Lineup Changes: Ponikarovsky, D’Agostini Out

After six consecutive losses, something’s had to give.

Finally tonight something will.

Pat Pickens

D’Agostini seems to be pressing, so it may not be a terrible idea to let him watch a game. DeBoer said he was looking for more bodies at the front of the net, and Josefson and Kostopoulos are likely the guys to score a “dirty goal” than Ponikarovsky or D’Agostini.

The defensive moves are not stunning either. Volchenkov and Larsson have been good, and in the second of back-to-back games, it seems like New Jersey needs some fresh legs in a must-win game.