Devils Off-Season Recap: Week of 6/30-7/6/13
Hosting the draft really wasn’t the biggest of deals for the Devils.
Beyond finding Martin Brodeur’s heir apparent in goal, the Devils did fairly well over the first majorly hectic week of the off season.
The biggest problem with the New Jersey Devils over the last several seasons has been goal scoring. During the 2011-12 regular season, the Devils ranked 15 among goals for, scoring 140 goals at 5 on 5 and scoring a total of 216 goals for the entire season, coming in at an average of 2.63 goals for per game.
That was before Zach Parise left for St. Paul Minnesota.
Without their captain, the Devils scored a total of 110 goals in a shortened season of 48 games, ranking 28th out of 30 teams with a 2.29 goals for per game average. The only teams that were worse were the highly injured Florida Panthers and the Nashville Predators who largely did not find their groove and had an off year.
The injury to Ilya Kovalchuk in the middle of the season did not do the team any favors, as a very hot David Clarkson (who lead the team with 15 goals at the end of the year) had cooled off and nearly gone missing.
Well, Clarkson left for his hometown as well. Without any other option and desperate to find scoring and to replace some roles, GM Lou Lamoriello went to work.
On day one of free agency, Lou Lamoriello made two major big splashes and a third low risk high reward signing on the very first day of free agency.
“We’ll be as active as any team,” said Lamoriello to Tom Gulitti, Devils beat writer for The Bergen Record.
He really was not kidding.
Lamoriello followed his blockbuster Schneider trade with the acquisition of Ryane Clowe, a power forward who is basically charged with the role of replacing David Clarkson.
Clowe signed a five year, $24.25 million deal with the Devils, a deal that comes with a lot of questions in terms of its fiscal amount, cap hit, and long term commitment. This is a winger who has a short term and all but recent history with injuries, namely concussions.
“I know,” Clowe told Rich Chere of The Star-Ledger. “I’ve heard people say, ‘That’s a long deal for him. Probably not what the Devils should have done. They should’ve given him a two or three-year deal.’ It’s the fact that I had a season last year I didn’t want to have and then I finished with an injury coming into free agency.
Lou Lamoriello cited the fact that Clowe had an off year, not uncommon, and that Clowe was his primary target heading into free agency. It’s safe to say @ryaneclowe29 will no longer be active for the foreseeable future.
Enter Michael Ryder, a perennial 30 goal scorer, who, at $3.5 million per year, represents a bargain if he can continue the magic he had with the Canadiens, Bruins, and Stars.
Both players knew each other because they both happen to be from Newfoundland, a fairly rare province as far as the nativity of NHL players. Only 28 total players in the NHL’s long history have come from the province. Some notable current players are Danny Cleary, an unrestricted free agent of the Detroit Red Wings as of this writing, and Colin Greening of the Ottawa Senators.
Ryder was talking about one of the major reasons why he came to New Jersey to Tom Gulitti, among them Lou Lamoriello’s history and admiration for winning.
“Lou, I think, he wants to win,” Ryder said to Gulitti. “When I was talking to him, he mentioned they really want to win, and they had a tough year last year, but the year before [they] went to the Finals. I think Lou wants to put a little more pieces of the puzzle together, and by looking at the roster I think we’re going to have a good team and we’re going to turn a lot of heads.”
The Devils also added recent Chicago Blackhawks buyout Rostislav Olesz, who spent all of last year in the AHL with the Rockford IceHogs. He’s expected to be a depth winger.
Lamoriello also partially cleared the log jam at the blue line, sending Henrik Tallinder back to Buffalo in exchange for Riley Boychuk, who has not played in the AHL. Boychuk was Buffalo’s 208th overall pick in the 2010 NHL Draft. Essentially, the only reason why Boychuk was sent over is the fact that Buffalo had to send at least one contract.
The Devils now have over $7 million to work with in cap space thanks to the Tallinder move. All signs point to the fact that Lamoriello is not done yet. Stay tuned.
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