Devils undecided on possible buyout for Volchenkov, Salvador


Day two of the NHL’s compliance buyout window, and it sounds like the New Jersey Devils are right in the thick of discussions about whether to use their final one or not. From the Star-Ledger:

Lou Lamoriello said Tuesday that the team is still considering whether to use a compliance buyout by the June 30 deadline to shed one contract from its books.

Although there has been speculation that the Devils could buy out the remaining $8.5 million (two years) on defenseman Anton Volchenkov’s contract, or even the final $3.25 million season on captain Bryce Salvador’s contract, Lamoriello said it’s not definite the team will buy anyone out.

“Absolutely not. You don’t use something juhttps://nbcprohockeytalk.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post-new.phpst for the sake of using it. If it is used it will be for the right reasons, but that’s not saying it will be used,” Lamoriello said.

Last year, the Devils used a compliance buyout on goalie Johan Hedberg just a short while after acquiring Cory Schneider from Vancouver. The move wasn’t so much for cap relief as it was to alleviate a positional logjam; Lamoriello also indicated he made the move out of respect for Hedberg, in the hope the goalie could catch on somewhere else.

“It’s not [Johan’s] fault this transaction took place,” Lamoriello said. “It was [a trade] that we had the opportunity to make, and for the franchise it had to be done. We tried for the last two days to get whatever scenario there was in [Johan’s] best interest and we were unsuccessful.

“He had a no-trade [clause], so we’ve been working together, but we had to do this (buy him out) today.”

With Volchenkov or Salvador, a buyout would be more fiscally driven. Volchenkov’s cap hit is $4.25 million while Salvador’s is $3.167 million, and the former seems like the most probable candidate given his plummeting ice time (Volchenkov averaged the least of any Devils defenseman last year) and the fact he missed extensive time over the last two years with a myriad of injuries.

Salvador, currently serving as the team’s captain, has also struggled mightily with injuries over the last two years but does log solid minute when healthy, averaging over 20 last season.

That said, both are longtime Devils and based on how Lamoriello reacted to buying out Hedberg, getting rid of either Volchenkov or Salvador doesn’t sound like it’ll be an easy decision.

DiMaio named Blues’ director of player personnel

via St. Louis Blues
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The St. Louis Blues named Rob DiMaio their director of player personnel on Tuesday.

He’s been with the organization for some time. He joined as a pro scout in 2008 and was the pro scouting director starting in August 2012.

He was also a scout for the Dallas Stars before landing with the Blues (one would assume his biggest connection is GM Doug Armstrong, then).

In case his nose didn’t give it away, he also enjoyed a lengthy hockey career over 19 seasons.

No doubt about it, this is a pivotal season for the Blues after multiple campaigns in which strong regular seasons dissolved into playoff disappointments. Perhaps DiMaio can make a difference in a heightened role?

Hitchcock going to more aggressive attack for Blues

Ken Hitchcock

ST. LOUIS (AP) After three straight first-round playoff exits, the St. Louis Blues have learned to temper expectations.

They have been consistently among the NHL’s best in the regular season and realize it is past time to build something for the long haul. The sting still lingers from the latest failure, against the Minnesota Wild last spring.

“We’re all disappointed, everybody can agree on that,” defenseman Alex Pietrangelo said. “It’s never easy to kind of think about your failures, but we grow every time it happens.”

Management isn’t ready to tear it all down yet.

“We play, in my opinion, one of the toughest if not the toughest division in the NHL, and we’ve finished first or second in the last four years,” forward Alexander Steen said. “So we have an extremely powerful team.”

Maybe a change in strategy will be enough: Coach Ken Hitchcock is back with a mandate for a more aggressive, even reckless, style of play from a roster that hasn’t changed appreciably.

“We’re coming hard from the back and we’re coming hard to see how close we can get to the attack,” Hitchcock said. “I think it’s where the game’s at; I think it’s where the game’s going to go.”

The 63-year-old Hitchcock is pushing forward, too, unwilling to dwell on the flameouts. Coach and players agree that would be “wasted energy.”

“My opinion is when you sit and think about the past, you do yourself no good,” Hitchcock said. “If you learn from the past, that’s when you do yourself a whole bunch of good.”

There were only two major roster casualties. Forward Troy Brouwer came from Washington in a trade for fan favorite T.J. Oshie. Defenseman Barret Jackman, the franchise career leader in games, wasn’t re-signed.

“If you were expecting 23 new faces to be on the roster this year, I don’t think that was realistic,” captain David Backes said. “We’re going to miss those guys in the room and on the ice, but there has been some changeover and I think it’s pretty significant.”

Things to watch for with the Blues:

GOALIE SHUFFLE: Just like last year, there’s no true No. 1 with Brian Elliott and Jake Allen sharing duties. The 25-year-old Allen missed a chance to seize the job last spring when he failed to raise his level in the playoffs.

TOP THREAT: Vladimir Tarasenko had a breakout season with 37 goals and was rewarded with an eight-year, $60 million contract. The 23-year-old winger is by far the Blues’ most dangerous scoring option and said he won’t let the money affect his play. “I never worry about it,” Tarasenko said. “If you play good, you play good.”

NEW FACES: Brouwer and center Kyle Brodziak add a physical element that was perhaps lacking a bit last season. Brouwer has three 20-plus goal seasons and Brodziak, acquired from Minnesota, fills a checking role. Veteran forward Scottie Upshall got a one-year, two-way deal after being coming to camp as a tryout. Rookie forward Robby Fabbri, a first-round pick last year, will get an early look. Another promising youngster, forward Ty Rattie, begins the year at Chicago of the AHL.

RECOVERY WARD: Forward Jori Lehteri bounced back quickly from ankle surgery and opens the season without restrictions. Another forward, Patrik Berglund, could miss half of the season following shoulder surgery.

TRACK RECORD: The Blues won the Central Division last season and Hitchcock, fourth on the career list with 708 regular-season wins, has consistently had the team near the top of the standings. “He is our coach, tough cookies if you don’t like it,” Backes said. “From my experience, he puts together one heck of a game plan.”