There’s a good chance that the New Jersey Devils won’t be very competitive over the next couple of seasons, so where does that leave 29-year-old goaltender Cory Schneider?
Certainly the Devils can come out of their rebuild while Schneider is still in his early 30s, but they are still running the risk of squandering the prime years of his career. It can’t be what Schneider was hoping for when he was first acquired in 2013 to be Martin Brodeur’s successor, but he’s willing to be patient.
“I’m really excited to step up here,” Schneider told NJ Advance Media. “We’re in transition somewhat, but (I’ll) hopefully be a calming presence and a veteran presence, even though I feel I’m a young 29. I hope to put my mark on a franchise and organization and hopefully carry them to a Stanley Cup one day.”
It helps that he’s got an eight-year, $42 million contract that kicks in this season, so he knows there’s a clear opportunity there for him to still be a big part of the Devils when they come out the other end of their rebuilding effort.
New Jersey will be going into the 2015-16 campaign with a young, but promising defense. For the Devils, the bigger question will be their offense, which has been near the bottom of the league for years and might require a meaningfully longer transitional period than the team’s blueline. That offense resulted in him finishing with a 26-31-9 record last season despite posting a 2.26 GAA and .925 save percentage.
PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.
The New Jersey Devils are holding a contest to design a mask for Cory Schneider. (Devils.nhl.com)
The argument in favor of the Nashville Predators trading Shea Weber within the next year. (Puck Daddy)
Did you enjoy Jonathan Quick’s look at the league’s elite snipers? Because he’s doing a second part to it and is taking requests. (Quick on Twitter)
Leo Reise Jr. passed away at the age of 93. The former defenseman played in 494 NHL games and won the Stanley Cup with Detroit in 1950 and 1952. (Associated Press)
The Chicago Blackhawks are getting a new practice facility. (NHL.com)
Ken Daneyko wrote about Lou Lamoriello, who he feels is a “once-in-a-generation hockey mind.” (The Players’ Tribune)
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.