Bryce Salvador’s absence from the New Jersey Devils lineup last season is one that initially didn’t appear to be a big loss. The way it worked out for New Jersey, however, wasn’t good as the Devils finished out of the playoffs and went through a laundry list of names of guys that filled in on the blue line.
Salvador’s veteran presence and steady defensive play were two things the Devils could’ve used a lot of last season and with Salvador out of action for the year with a cochlear concussion suffered during a preseason fight, he wasn’t there to help the team try to win games. Now that Salvador is recovered from his concussion problem and ready to get back to action, things are about to get steady again in New Jersey.
For new Devils coach Peter DeBoer, he’ll be more than happy to have Salvador back in the lineup and he’s got big expectations from the 35 year-old blue liner. Rich Chere of The Newark Star-Ledger has the story.
“I’ve seen him skating here and talked to him a few times. He’s taken some bumps but sounds real optimistic,” coach Pete DeBoer said. “At least in my mind, I’m going in figuring this guy is going to be a part of our opening day roster and ready to go.”
Salvador, 35, believes he is ready. He skated and trained hard this summer.
But Devils management is being cautious.
“We’re waiting for the physical for him to get clearance. All indications are that he will, but we don’t know yet,” general manager Lou Lamoriello said.
If Salvador can get back in the lineup and be a solid contributor once again as a stopper, he’ll join a defensive corps that includes fellow top defender Anton Volchenkov, puck movers Andy Greene and Henrik Tallinder, and young potential starters in Matt Taormina and 2011 first round pick Adam Larsson. That mix of veteran experience and youthful energy could help the Devils get back in the playoffs but being able to keep opponents off the board while goalie Martin Brodeur is on the backside of his career is part of the trick of trying to get the Devils back to their old glory.
Banking on Salvador to play hard minutes for the Devils will also make for a curious test for a guy coming off of a concussion. While a cochlear concussion is a bit different than the standard concussion we’re used to hearing about, it was an injury bad enough to keep him out of action all last season. Coming back after that much time lost can either recharge his batteries or show him that the game has gotten by him. We’re hoping for Salvador’s case he comes back as strong as ever and can avoid dropping the gloves unnecessarily.