Lou Lamoriello is making the rounds today. Earlier Wednesday, he spoke to Rich Chere about some of the Devils’ lower-level free agents. Now, Tom Gulitti has some updates on some of the more high-priority free agents.
Lamoriello said he's been "talking to" agents for Elias, Clarkson, Zubrus, Zidlicky, Harrold.
That second tweet is far more important than the first one. It’s no surprise Lou is talking to their agents. Hell, he BETTER be talking to their agents with free agent less than six weeks away. The question is how many, if any, of them are willing to sign before free agency opens. For someone like Elias, who has spent his whole career with N.J., it makes sense for that to get done in advance. A guy like Zubrus that likes Pete DeBoer and knows where he fits on the team and in the system also might be willing to sign before the market opens.
However, for Clarkson and Zidlicky, this could mean they’ve played their last game in a Devils uniform. Clarkson is HIGHLY unlikely to strike any sort of deal before allowing a bidding war to start on the open market. Also, Zidlicky is likely to fetch more in free agency in terms of dollars than the Devils would likely be willing to pay him. That said, this is a wise move for Lou in my opinion. There’s no reason to get sucked into any sort of bidding war for any of these players, regardless of how much Clarkson means to the team and the franchise. I thought that Clarkson would eventually re-sign with the only team he’s ever known, but it sounds like I was wrong.
Well this is certainly good, if not entirely expected news. I wouldn’t read too much into no Elias talks yet, although it does tell me that perhaps Lou Lamoriello has prioritized Clarkson, which would make sense for a few reasons. One, Elias’ value on the open market is pretty much well known. He’ll likely get a two-year deal worth between $9-12 million, but Clarkson’s value could spike if he’s allowed to talk to other teams. Of course, Clarkson and his reps understand that and I highly doubt Clarkson will sign before getting a chance to at least test free agency. This sounds to me like Lou testing out the waters and getting a sense of what Clarkson’s people are looking for in average annual value so that Lou can slot in whether the Devils will even be a player in talks. I’m on record as saying I think eventually a deal gets done unless Clarkson is truly looking for the biggest contract possible, in which case he’ll likely end up in Toronto or Edmonton. My guess is that this will play out a lot like the Zach Parise negotiations from last year, with Clarkson hitting free agency the Devils staying in it until the end. Whether Clarkson returns to New Jersey is likely up to him.
The Anaheim Ducks were eliminated from the postseason, which means we can all start speculating about whether winger Bobby Ryan will be traded this summer. The Ducks have devoted a lot of cap space to Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry and there might not be enough left to keep Ryan, who is due to count $5.1 million against the cap for each of the next two seasons (per Cap Geek).
If a 30-goal scorer is on the trade market, you would think Lou Lamoriello and the Devils would be interested. Todd Cordell of Hockey Buzz posed the question, speculated about Anaheim’s asking price and then answered it rather definitively.
His points per game average was down a bit from his standards this season but he still had more even strength goals and points than every player on the Devils, so clearly he’d be a welcome addition.
Now about the cost. What would it be? I’m guessing the Devils would have to include one of Eric Gelinas / Alex Urbom / Jon Merrill as well as another forward prospect (likely Stefan Matteau or Reid Boucher), an NHL center off of their roster and potentially the 9th overall pick (depending on the prospects/center they offer).
A steep price, indeed, but you don’t get young perennial 30 goal scorers without giving up a lot. You have to give to get, they say.
Whether Ryan ends up a Devil or not, Devils GM, Lou Lamoriello, must make some calls and try to get his hands on Ryan. Lamoriello has said you look at every opportunity to improve your roster. Well, an opportunity is sitting right in front of you.
Cordell’s argument is a fair one. The Devils don’t have a lot of players with the offensive game that Ryan possesses and 30-goal scorers are increasingly rare commodities. I don’t disagree that Lamoriello should (and probably will) make a call to Ducks GM Bob Murray if indeed Ryan is available. Even if the Devils retain David Clarkson and Patrik Elias, we saw this season that’s not enough. If Clarkson leaves, Ryan would be a much better offensive replacement and likely at a similar cost value given what Clarkson could get on the open market. Ryan would give the Devils an instant 1-2 punch on the right side with Ilya Kovalchuk and could prove to be an incredibly dangerous winger playing alongside Adam Henrique or perhaps even be a new bestie for the sullen Travis Zajac. The idea, in theory, sounds like a no-brainer.
But you lose me at the cost. As we saw this season, the Devils have minimal depth both at the NHL level and throughout the organization. Sacrificing one of your top defensive prospects along with your top offensive prospect, a current NHL center and potentially the No. 9 overall pick in a talent-rich draft is way too much for a franchise like the Devils to give up. Lamoriello needs to keep adding to the prospects and the talent base, not subtract from it. I understand the idea of adding a talent like a Ryan (a N.J. kid, no less) is absolutely tantalizing. Some of you might say that trading unproven talent for proven skill is always worth it — and a lot of times I would agree with you. But I worry about this team beyond next season or the year after that. There has to be a talent pipeline once more and a trade for Ryan might very well gut it of most of the top-level players.
While I appreciate the idea and think Ryan could be a very helpful addition, I just think it’s a short-sighted move meant to capitalize on what’s left of Martin Brodeur’s career. The Devils need to build for next year and what happens after Marty retired, not one or the other. What do you think?
Schoenfeld subsequently was suspended, replacement officials were used and Lou Lamoriello coached New Jersey to a 3-1 win in game 4 at Brendan Byrne Arena. David Maley, Pat Verbeek and Tom Kurvers each scored goals, as the Devils even the best-of-seven series at 2.
1995- Just a day removed from his second-career playoff shutout, Martin Brodeur shuts out the Boston Bruins again, 3-0, in game 2 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals at Boston Garden.
2000- Brodeur stops all six shots he faces– yes six, that’s not a typo– in New Jersey’s 3-0 Eastern Conference semifinal-clinching game 6 win at Continental Airlines Arena.
Petr Sykora and Jason Arnott each register a goal and an assist, as New Jersey wins the series 4-2.
2012- Ilya Kovalchuk records a goal and an assist, and David Clarkson scores the eventual game-winning goal, as the Devils polish off the Philadelphia Flyers with a 3-1 win in game 5 of the Eastern Conference semifinals at Wells Fargo Center.
The Devils claim the series 4-1 and advance to the Eastern Conference finals.
This is the first in 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: Right wing Age: 29 2013 statistics: 48 games/15 goals, 9 assists, 24 points/minus-6 rating, 78 PIMs Free-agent status: Unrestricted 2012-13 salary/cap hit: $3 million/$2.66 million (via Cap Geek) Team history: Signed as undrafted free agent on Aug. 12, 2005
What he brings: Clarkson has developed into your prototypical power forward. He’s not the biggest guy (6-foot-1, 200 pounds) but he plays about two inches bigger than his bio. He’s strong on the forecheck and is one of those gritty “glue” guys that every team loves to have. He plays in all three phrases and also loves to get under the opposing team’s skin with the way he plays. The difference between the Clarkson of three years ago and the player that’s about to become an unrestricted free agent is scoring touch. Clarkson had always been a solid 10-to-15-goals per year kind of player until he finally reached the 30-goal plateau last season. Entering this season, there were questions about whether that was a fluke or whether he had legitimately reached another level of his development. Playing a full 48-game slate in the lockout year, Clarkson scored on a 25-goal pace and was constantly around the net, narrowly missing five to 10 additional goals over the course of the season.
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 1…
2000- Patrik Elias records a goal and two assists, and Scott Gomez and Claude Lemieux each post two-point games, leading the Devils to a 5-1 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs in game 3 of the Eastern Conference semifinals at Continental Airlines Arena.
2001- Brian Rafalski’s overtime goal lifts New Jersey to a 3-2 victory over the Maple Leafs in game 3 of New Jersey’s Eastern Conference semifinals at Air Canada Centre.
2012- The Devils score four third-period goals– with David Clarkson’s proving as the game winner– as New Jersey knots up its Eastern Conference semifinal series with a 4-1 win over the Philadelphia Flyers at Wells Fargo Center.
Who: New Jersey Devils at New York Rangers When: 3:00 p.m. ET Where: Madison Square Garden, New York Media:TV – NBC; (Channel listings); Radio – Bloomberg (1130 AM)
Stats & Notes (via Devils PR)
The Devils enter tonight’s game 15-11-3 in their previous 29 season-closing games. The team is 7-0-1 in its past seven season-closers, and has not lost since April 4, 2004 vs. Boston (3-1). New Jersey is closing a season on the road for the first time since April 18, 2006 at Montreal (4-3 win).
New Jersey closed-out the home portion of its 2012-13 schedule Thursday with a 3-2 win over Pittsburgh. The Devils are now 19-8-3 in their previous 30 home finales. New Jersey is 7-0-1 in its last seven home-closers (last loss, April 4, 2004 vs. Boston, 3-1).
The Devils finished with a 13-9-2=28pts mark at Prudential Center.
New Jersey finished with a season-high (tie) three consecutive home victories.
Thursday vs. Pittsburgh, the Devils improved to 5-17-6 on the year when allowing the first goal. New Jersey is 14-1-4 when scoring first this season.
Johan Hedberg (16 saves) earned the win Thursday in his first start since March 19 vs. the New York Rangers. He is expected to start this afternoon, as well.
Ilya Kovalchuk scored the game-winning goal and added an assist Thursday and now has points in three straight games (1g-3a-4pts). He is one assist shy of the 400-mark in his NHL career.
David Clarkson scored his team-leading 15th goal of the season Thursday. It was his sixth on the power play, which also leads New Jersey.
Sidelined: Salvador (wrist), Fayne (nagging injury)
The End: Today is New Jersey’s 48th and final game of 2013. New Jersey’s won four of its last five games and, though it won’t make the playoffs, nor will it be able to keep the Rangers out of the playoffs, the Devils can resign New York to the East’s No. 8 seed if they can win in regulation.
The Rangers will clinch at least the No. 7 seed with a point.
Moose: Hedberg will start in net in Saturday afternoon’s game at Madison Square Garden. The 40-year-old goalie stopped 16 shots in Thursday night’s win over Pittsburgh and is 0-1 against the Rangers this year.