For some, the New Jersey Devils’ surprisingly deep postseason run revolved around the possibility that this could be a last hurrah for lynchpins Martin Brodeur and Zach Parise. Upon further inspection, it’s clear that those crucial choices are just the headliners in what could be one of the most eventful off-seasons in GM Lou Lamoriello’s lengthy reign.
Really, the team doesn’t have a ton of guys locked up long-term beyond Ilya Kovalchuk and a handful of defensemen.
Taking a look at the Devils’ Cap Geek page, it’s stunning how many players are a) scheduled to become free agents this summer or b) only have one more year left on their contracts. To spare you all that tedious clicking, I thought I’d rattle them off with some thoughts.
Free agents this summer
Parise – As you may know, it all comes down to what Parise thinks. Perhaps the deep playoff run and familiarity in New Jersey will make him a Devil for the rest of his career, but we’ll need to wait and see.
Brodeur – For a long time, it seemed like the Devils were holding all the cards. Brodeur gained quite a bit of clout and leverage with his playoff performances, however, so it’ll be interesting to see if New Jersey ponies up. If you ask me, the sticking point might be term instead of cash.
Johan Hedberg – Interestingly enough, both Devils goalies are unrestricted free agents this summer. It’s tough to imagine seeing two older netminders in New Jersey next season, but Hedberg’s quietly played well for the Devils.
Alexei Ponikarovsky – Will his friendship with Kovalchuk help his chances of finally sticking with a team? Maybe if his asking price is reasonable.
Mark Fayne (restricted) and Peter Harrold – Two fairly young defensemen whose negotiations could be intriguing.
Ryan Carter, Steve Bernier and Stephen Gionta – Hey, remember how excited everyone got about the great play by the Devils’ fourth line? Their agents are probably the most excited.
Petr Sykora – Sure, he’s been a healthy scratch, but it’s amazing he even got this far with the Devils.
Free agents after next season
Patrik Elias – He’s had tough scoring luck in the playoffs, yet he had a stealthily outstanding season. He’ll almost certainly need to take a generous pay cut from his $6 million cap hit, though.
Travis Zajac – One underrated reason why the Devils got this far was that Zajac finally seemed close to 100 percent after struggling to recover from off-season surgery. Something tells me that the underrated pivot would get some of Elias’ money – unless he bolts.
Jacob Josefson – Don’t be surprised if a healthier Josefson at least establishes himself as an NHL regular next season.
David Clarkson – One of the league’s better young power forwards could fetch a nice sum if he has a strong contract year.
Marek Zidlicky – Zidlicky is one of the only “wild cards” in a defense that’s locked up or a few more seasons.
Dainius Zubrus – Another underrated fixture in New Jersey.
Honestly, the Devils’ deep run scores another bullet point for the “greed is good” principle of contract year successes. Once he sorts out Brodeur’s and Parise’s situations, Lamoriello must step back and determine if this core can put together more runs like this. If he leans toward yes, it’ll be costly.