After going unclaimed on unconditional waivers, Dainius Zubrus is no longer a member of the New Jersey Devils and that reality has caught him off guard.
He would have been better prepared for this had it happened during the normal buyout window in June, but at this point he didn’t see it coming. The 37-year-old is hoping that another team will give him a chance to extend his career though.
“At this point, it’s the NHL or nothing. I’m training for the NHL,” Zubrus told NJ Advance Media. “Honestly, I still dream of winning the Stanley Cup. That dream is still there. When summertime training gets tough, I push myself hoping that it will happen.
“I hope to be on a team that makes a good run and gives me a chance.”
He had a chance to talk to Devils GM Ray Shero and understands that this was about clearing up a roster spot. At the same time, Zubrus is aware that he had a “terrible year stats-wise.” He finished with just four goals and 10 points in 74 contests in 2014-15.
He is a veteran of 1,243 games and went to the Stanley Cup Final with Philadelphia in 1997 and New Jersey in 2012, losing both times.
While nothing is imminent, the New Jersey Devils’ decision to buy out Dainius Zubrus has set the table for them to make a trade or free agent signing.
“It really wasn’t about Dainius himself,” Devils GM Ray Shero told The Record. “It was more about the roster spot/flexibility moving forward. … If something comes along and we don’t have a roster spot – not so much the 23-man roster, but up front in terms of let’s say you’re carrying 13 forwards, 14 forwards and you don’t have any spots – then you can’t do anything.”
It certainly wasn’t about freeing up cap space given that Zubrus’ $3.1 million cap hit for 2015-16 will count fully against the team’s books even after the buyout because he was a 35-and-over signing. The Devils are still saving roughly $1 million of this way, but Shero insisted that this wasn’t a financial decision.
There are still teams that are looking to get into a better cap position, such as the Chicago Blackhawks, that Shero might have his eye towards as he clears some room on the team’s roster. There’s also some noteworthy free agent forwards left, including Stephen Weiss, Martin Erat, Tomas Fleischmann, and Jiri Tlusty.
Failing that it gives the Devils an opportunity to have one of their younger players on the roster as New Jersey looks to show signs of progress offensively after spending three straight seasons in the bottom-five in the NHL in terms of goals per game.
The New Jersey Devils are parting ways with Dainius Zubrus.
The club made the announcement today, saying that the 37-year-old forward had been placed on unconditional waivers for the purpose of terminating his contract.
Zubrus was set to make $3.1 million in 2015-16, after which he would become an unrestricted free agent. He had just four goals and six assists in 74 games last season.
The Devils did not say they were buying out Zubrus, only that his contract was being terminated. New Jersey would not have received cap relief anyway if it was a buyout, as Zubrus’ contract was of the 35-plus variety. The team would have saved around a million bucks in actual salary, however.
It’s possible there was a mutual agreement to terminate Zubrus’ contract, a la Damien Brunner in 2014.
Update: It’s a buyout:
The Devils were afforded an additional buyout window as they had two arbitration cases this offseason.
New Jersey Devils blueliner Adam Larsson has been a disappointment at times, especially to those who took the Victor Hedman comparisons a little too seriously.
Still, he finally showed flashes of brilliance once he was “liberated from Peter DeBoer’s prison for young defensemen,” as Puck Daddy’s Greg Wyshynski wrote. Apparently the Devils saw enough to sign him to one of those deals that stands as risky today, but could be brilliant down the line: six years, $25 million.
Again, considering his production at this point, a $4.167 million cap hit seems a little steep. Larsson’s just 22 right now – he’ll turn 23 in November – so it isn’t crazy to ponder a significant leap. Defensemen take longer to develop, after all.
Devils GM Ray Shero definitely seems to think that the young Swede’s best days are ahead of him, as the Bergen Record notes.
“I think he’s only scratched the surface of the kind of player he’s going to be,” Shero said. “There’s a reason he was drafted when he was. He’s got a lot of experience already. He’s played a lot of ice time on the (penalty kill) and 5-on-5. He hasn’t had the chance to play a lot on the power play, yet.”
Shero believes the contract stands as a “good deal for both sides,” as Larsson gets a long-term deal while the Devils buy three of his unrestricted years.
Ultimately, though, we’ll probably look at it as either an overpay for a somewhat disappointing prospect (selected fourth overall in 2011) or a brilliant steal for a player who finally hits his prime.
In other words, if things work out, the Hedman comparisons might not be so outrageous after all.
The New Jersey Devils and defenseman Adam Larsson have avoided an arbitration hearing scheduled for next week after the two sides came a deal announced Saturday.
The Devils announced via Twitter that they re-signed the 22-year-old blue liner to a six-year contract, worth a total of almost $25 million. According to the club, the new deal comes with an annual average value of $4,166,666.67.
Larsson’s salary breakdown under this new deal includes $2.5 million this season, before earning $5.05 million and $5.1 million, respectively, in the final two years of the deal.
Last week, Devils GM Ray Shero was confident the two sides would be able to figure out a new deal, perhaps even before they were to go to arbitration.
Last season, Larsson, taken fourth overall in the 2011 NHL Draft, posted three goals and 24 points — career highs for him — in 64 games, leading all New Jersey defensemen in points.