When Mike Cammalleri agreed to a five-year, $25 million contract with the New Jersey Devils, it was thought that he could play on the top line with Travis Zajac and Jaromir Jagr. That’s been the case so far, but Devils coach Pete DeBoer isn’t ready to make a commitment.
“Especially good players and good offensive players, they need to get to know each other – where they like the puck, the areas of the ice they like to get to, those kind of things,” DeBoer told the Bergen Record. “So, they’re in the dating stage right now.”
If there’s a breakup, it’s likely that Cammalleri will be the one that needs to start seeing other lines. Jagr and Zajac spent a lot of time together last season and Jagr openly questioned DeBoer when the coach attempted to separate them late last season.
For his part, Jagr thinks this trio is “going to work” and is confident that he can get the puck to Cammalleri.
The Predators are bringing in some experience on the blueline.
Brian Lee, a veteran of over 200 NHL contests, has been invited to Nashville’s training camp on a professional tryout basis, the club announced on Wednesday.
The 27-year-old rearguard — taken ninth overall by Ottawa at the 2005 NHL Entry Draft — spent the majority of his NHL career with the Sens, recording a career-high 13 points during the 2008-09 campaign. He was acquired by Tampa Bay in 2012 but tore his ACL while skating for AHL Syracuse during the ’13 Calder Cup playoffs, and hasn’t played since.
Lee is a relatively well-known commodity in NHL circles. He’s a former Minnesota Mr. Hockey that played on a dynamic University of North Dakota team featuring Jonathan Toews, T.J. Oshie, Travis Zajac and Drew Stafford (obviously, a few scouts showed up to watch them play), and could have a shot at cracking a Preds blueline that isn’t bursting with depth.
Right now, the top seven projects to be Shea Weber, Seth Jones, Roman Josi, Victor Bartley, Anton Volchenkov, Mattias Ekholm and Ryan Ellis — but the latter is currently embroiled in a contract negotiation and could end up missing training camp.
Of course, in light of the Ellis situation, here are some suggesting Lee might be nothing more than a training camp body.
One day after lambasting Kurt Overhardt — the agent representing unsigned RFA Ryan Johansen — Columbus president John Davidson took things a step further, offering virtual transparency with regards to contract negotiations:
“When you’re talking about contracts close to $50 million, I think our group has been very fair and it’s nowhere near what they want,” Davidson added. “We’ve been told if we don’t give them what they want, they’ll be leaving town.”
At this point, it’s fair to say there’s a serious fracture in the relationship between the Blue Jackets and Johansen’s camp. Davidson went nuclear yesterday, calling Overhardt’s actions “baffling,” “nonsensical,” “embarrassing,” and “extortion” — and today, he upped the ante by putting all of Columbus’ cards on the table.
The biggest deal tabled — the eight-year, $46 million deal — is on par with the max-length contracts New Jersey gave to Travis Zajac (8/$46) and Los Angeles gave to Dustin Brown (8/$47). Two major differences, of course: Brown got his at 28, and after captaining the Kings to their first-ever Stanley Cup championship; Zajac got his at 27 after over 400 games with the Devils and a Stanley Cup Final appearance.
The other major difference, of course, is that Brown and Zajac were at an age to enter unrestricted free agency. Johansen is 21, coming off his entry-level deal and doesn’t even hold arbitration rights; it’s also worth pointing out the the proposed eight-year pact would actually be Columbus “buying” a couple of his UFA years.
Still… $46 million is a significant investment, regardless of term. There are only 35 players in the NHL that’ve inked for such money or more.