New Jersey Devils

Report: Devils to part ways with Bernier, Fraser and Harrold

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Scott Gomez isn’t the only member of the 2014-15 New Jersey Devils who will not return next season.

Devils GM Ray Shero has informed the agents of Steve Bernier, Mark Fraser and Peter Harrold that they should explore the market come July 1.

“We’re not going forward right now with any of them,” said Shero per Tom Gulitti of The Record. “I’ve notified their agents that they’re going to July 1. I talked to Scott Gomez’s agent and we’re not going to go be going in that direction. Bernier, we’re going to July 1 and just see what’s out there. Fraser the same thing and Harrold likely the same thing.”

Bernier had 16 goals and 32 points in 67 games with the Devils during the 2014-15 season.

Harrold scored three goals and two assists to go along with a minus-10 rating in 43 games while Fraser appeared in 34 games for the Devils last season registering four assists.

“I think it’s really good for us to look and for them to look to see what’s out there,” Shero said. “That’s more coming from my end than theirs. … You never close any doors, but to me with Steve Bernier, he had a really good year last year, maybe there’s better for him out there with another team.”

Related: UFA of the Day: Antoine Vermette

Devils aren’t interested, but Gomez says ‘I know I can play’

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New Jersey Devils GM Ray Shero confirmed that Scott Gomez and Steve Bernier will not return in 2015-16, according to the Newark Star-Ledger.

It’s a reasonable enough choice, especially with Shero not having the same emotional connection to Gomez that Lou Lamoriello had. (Shero basically give the “it’s not him, it’s us” speech, noting the younger players waiting in line for chances.)

This brings up an interesting question, though: will any other GM give Gomez (in particular) a shot? He managed 34 points in 58 games, pretty good for a guy who was basically begging for a job heading into the 2014-15 season.

Gomez believes that output proves he can hang with pros even at 35, according to the Bergen Record.

“I found out from my agent (Friday) morning,” Gomez said today. “It is what it is. The thing is I know I can play. I’ve proven that. I know I can play at this level. I know I can contribute. But, it’s time to focus on somewhere else.”

With scoring as tough to come by as it is these days, that really isn’t terrible production.

Still, he is 35. Even though he essentially argued that he’s a young 35, that’s the exact mark where teams balk at contracts … especially deals that exceed one season.

In other words, it remains to be seen if Gomez will get another chance to prove himself.

Benning knows he ‘could get criticized’ for trading fan favorite Eddie Lack

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FORT LAUDERDALE — With the petition to “Keep Eddie Lack!” approaching 1,500 signatures, Canucks GM Jim Benning knows he could be in for some abuse.

If Lack is traded, there will be a lot of angry fans in Vancouver, a market that’s already had to say good-bye to Roberto Luongo and Cory Schneider in the last couple of years.

But Benning’s job is to put the best team on the ice, and he feels that keeping Ryan Miller and trading one of Lack or Jacob Markstrom is the best strategy.

“Sitting in my shoes, and when I talk to my management team, we have to make the decision that’s best for the organization going forward,” said Benning.

“I know if that’s the way we decide to go, I could get criticized. But that’s part of the job. There’s nothing I can do about that.”

Benning reiterated today that Vancouver won’t be trading Miller, because “we want to keep a veteran goalie.”

So it’s either Lack, the fan favorite, or Markstrom, the AHL all-star, who will be dealt.

“I think a big part of our team last year was that we had two good goalies,” said Benning. “Ryan is a proven number-one goalie in the league. So we want to keep Ryan, then we have to make a hard decision on the other two guys.

“Now, part of that decision is going to be based on who we think has the most upside, and part of it’s going to be how he fits in our salary cap situation. That’s just the decision that we have to make to keep moving forward.”

The Buffalo Sabres, armed with a pair of second-round draft picks, are reportedly one of the teams interested in Lack.

Related: Benning confident Canucks can ‘get a fairly high draft pick’ for Lack or Markstrom

 

Devils re-sign goalie Wedgewood: two years, $1.175M

The Devils locked in another netminder on Monday, agreeing to a contract extension with third-stringer Scott Wedgewood.

The deal is two years at $1.175 million — an average annual cap hit of $587,500 — and is of the two-way variety. Wedgewood, 22, was taken by New Jersey in the third round of the 2010 NHL Entry Draft and has spent the last three seasons with AHL Albany, appearing in 36 games in each of the last two.

Prior to new GM Ray Shero coming aboard, the Devils had inked No. 2 goalie Keith Kinkaid to a two-year, $1.45 million extension. Kinkaid earned the deal after his first full season as Cory Schneider’s backup, in which he fared well — the 25-year-old went 6-5-4 in 19 appearances, posting a .915 save percentage and 2.59 GAA.

So for the next two years, the Devils have Schneider and Kinkaid at the NHL level and Wedgewood locked in as the No. 3. Now all that’s left is to figure out the rest of the roster.

Benning: Canucks waiting ‘for the domino effect’ in goalie market

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In 2013, the Vancouver Canucks, then under former general manager Mike Gillis, had goalies Cory Schneider and Roberto Luongo and decided to send the former to New Jersey for the ninth overall pick.

In 2015, Jim Benning, entering his second year as the Canucks’ GM, is facing a similar decision in the goaltending department with the first round of the NHL Draft now just six days away. It’s not a Schneider-Luongo situation, but with Vancouver needing draft picks, and three goalies with varying degrees of NHL experience and success in Ryan Miller, Eddie Lack and Jacob Markstrom, a decision looms.

The Canucks select 23rd overall, but as of right now, they don’t have another pick until the fourth round in what is considered to be a deep draft.

Benning made it known immediately after the trade deadline that he’d like to recoup picks for the draft.

Markstrom, who was the backbone for the Utica Comets in their run to the AHL championship series, is a pending restricted free agent. Lack has one year remaining on his current deal, which is cap-friendly at $1.15 million.

Ben Kuzma of The Province reported this week that Benning has taken trade calls from other teams on both Markstrom and Lack.

Any potential move the Canucks make at this position might be dependent on what, if anything, happens with New York goalie Cam Talbot. Previous reports had as many as six teams having “some interest” in Talbot.

“There’s good depth in the second round and I’d like to have a second-round pick but it’s a balancing act for us,” Benning told The Province newspaper in Vancouver.

“It might not be a pick but a way of making our team better — we’re looking at all options. But I think I’ll be able to figure something out on that (draft pick) because when one goalie goes, they’re going to move on to the next guy. We’re waiting for the domino effect.”

Related: Canucks might move a goalie, but it won’t be Ryan Miller