The 2012 offseason has not been kind to the New Jersey Devils, and if the lockout wipes out the entire 2012-2013 season, the organization might be looking at another summer of chaos before they take the ice.
According to Cap Geek, the Devils will have seven unrestricted free agents and two restricted free agents going into the 2013 offseason, leaving the team with 13 players under contract. Some of New Jersey's biggest names will have the opportunity to test the market, including Patrik Elias, Travis Zajac and Marek Zidlicky.
New Jersey currently has $14.2 million in cap space and will burn another $20.9 million worth of contracts once the summer of 2013 rolls around. With a majority of its free agents coming from the offense, it is likely that New Jersey will use that extra money to either re-sign its forwards or find an offensive stud on the market.
The 2013 offseason will likely look a lot like this year, with Travis Zajac getting large contract offers from other teams while the Devils attempt to re-sign a tenured veteran in Patrik Elias. New Jersey went through this with Zach Parise and Martin Brodeur, and it will hope to have better results then it did this past June.
The Devils will also have to deal with restricted free agent Adam Henrique, who after the 2012 NHL Playoffs has emerged as one of the league's best young talents. A number of teams will likely inquire about acquiring him after the 2012-2013 season ends, and New Jersey can't afford to lose another well liked player to another organization.
The future of the remaining offensive free agents will depend solely on whether or not there is a season this year. Dainius Zubrus and David Clarkson currently make a combined $6 million, and they will have to play up to their expectations if they expect to get a new offer from New Jersey.
As for the defensive side, the Devils will only have to worry about Peter Harrold and recently acquired Marek Zidlicky. Harrold will likely be easy to re-sign depending on the year he has, but Zidlicky may turn out to be an interesting case.
Zidlicky, who will be 36 by the end of next year, became one of the Devils' best offensive threats on the blue line. His puck moving abilities helped the team's power play and opened up the offensive throughout the playoffs.
However, since coming into the league in 2003-2004, Zidlicky's numbers have slowly been on the decline and last year he had a career worst, 22 points. He is also due $4 million this season if the NHL reaches an agreement and may want a raise if he tests the market next summer.
New Jersey currently has a number of talented prospects playing in the minors and may let Zidlicky walk to make room on their roster. However, if the veteran defenseman leaves the Devils after one full season, players like Eric Gelinas and Alex Urbom will have fairly large shoes to fill for the future.
Let's hope that the NHL and NHLPA can salvage some sort of season before it's too late. If the Devils aren't able to defend their Eastern Conference championship this year, they will start right where they left off when they lost Zach Parise.
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