# New Jersey Devils: An In-Depth Look at Offseason Plans

Norm KennedyContributor IMay 24, 2009

Ironically enough, I posted an article on my ideas for the 2010 New Jersey Devils a few weeks ago.

I got into a mutually respectful argument with "levinakl" regarding my understandings of the cap for next year.

The "mathy" side of me wanted to use a formula to prove my correctness. I said that:

"The salary cap has increased every year exponentially, I think we'll have plenty of room. You have to figure the cap will be around 57.5m. The recent cap numbers:

'05-06: \$39 million
'06-07: \$44 million
'07-08: \$50.3 million
'08-09: \$56.7 million

[Which] means it's gone up, on average, exactly \$6 million a year. Exponentially, using the logarithm such that x=Pe^RT, such that x represents the future amount, p represents the principle, e is the constant and R represents the average rate of increase over four years (12% or .12), and time represents the time in years-- 56.7e^(.08)(1) you get 61.42m.

Factor in the economy (guesstimate rate of no less than four percent and no more than 10 percent decrease considering the popularity) and we're around \$57.84 minimum, \$59.87 maximum (in millions of course)."

In English? The cap will go up, my plan is right, your prediction is wrong. Silly me, I should know that the NHL isn't, how can I say this... "normal".

Instead of throwing a math formula in my face, like I did to him, levinakl used logic. It's a novel concept, I know. He simply, and correctly, replied:

"The cap is widely expected to be at or below last year's totals. Not trying to be a smart aleck either, but the world economy has changed things quite a bit."

Ding! Ding! Ding! We have a winner. As per TSN, "The source told the Globe and Mail the salary cap is expected to drop for the first time next season, but only to about \$55 million. But with revenues expected to drop during the course of next season, the difference would be made up from the players' escrow fund."

Then, curiously, "sense" hit me. Buying out Zubrus (which I included in my last article) is, to say the least, stupid. Buying out players in a cap-era is stupid to begin with—but when the cap goes down? Here's the best way to present it to you:

Say the Devils do buy out Zubrus. For the next eight years, we will pay 1.1 million dollars in cap hits. That's 1.1 million dollars, dead. Now, to equal his point production, we'd need to find a guy who could put up around 40 to 45 points and play at least 75 games a year.

But here's the catch. We'd need to find a guy like that for under 2.3 million dollars, otherwise we're flushing money down a toilet. Good luck with that.

So, do ya hear that noise? That's me angrily crumpling up my previous "2010 Devils" thoughts, and starting anew.

(Oh, and as a little key: At the end of each player, I'll post something in bold, which will represent an article title in my perfect little world.)

Forwards

The offense, for Devils standards, had a great year. Elias remembered how to play hockey, Langs stepped up in the captian's role, Parise had a breakout year (solidifying himself as a top-10 forward in the NHL) I don't want to change too much, actually.

But, alas, something needs to be done...otherwise I wouldn't be writing an article.

UFA: Brian Gionta, John Madden, Bobby Holik, Mike Rupp, Brendan Shanahan
RFA: Travis Zajac, Pierre Leblond

Brian Gionta, as admirable and exciting of a post season he had, needs to be let go. A change in environment will do both he and the Devils well. Thus: Devils let Brian Gionta Walk.

John Madden. Oh, John Madden. Once my favorite player, the 4-time nominee and 1-time winner of the Selke, must be let go. His services seem to have run their course.  He was recently quoted saying, "...I want to feel wanted... I just don't know anymore [when asked if he felt wanted here, in New Jersey]". Thank you for your services, but I conclude. Devils, John Madden, part ways after nine years.

Bobby Holik. If you haven't heard the news yet, Mr. Frankenstein has retired. Bobby Holik Retires

Mike Rupp: While I have enjoyed screaming "Rupp him up!!" at Devils games, I think it's time we parted ways. Thanks for Game Seven in 2003, but... pass. Devils show no interest in Rupp.

Brendan Shanahan: We have a keeper. I love his grit, his determination, his skill, and his experience. He's ready to come back, the Devils should welcome it. Devils re-sign Brendan Shanahan, one year: \$1 Million.

Travis Zajac: A multi-year deal is in order. I want the ZZPops (Zajac, Langenbrunner, Parise) line to be in existence until Langs retires. The Devils will pay this man his money, probably around something like what the Pens gave Jordan Staal. Devils re-sign Travis Zajac, four years and \$12 million.

Pierre Luc-Leteurnau Leblond: God, that name is fun to say. I think P3L will be re-upped to the league-minimum 10 percent increase. Devils Pick Up Option on Leblond, one year \$550k.

So, for now, our offense looks like this.

Elias (\$6.0M)
Rolston (\$5.0M)
Zubrus (\$3.4M)
Parise (\$3.2M)
Zajac (\$3.0M)
Langenbrunner (\$2.8M)
Pandolfo (\$2.5M)
Shanahan (\$1.0M)
Clarkson (\$838k)
Leblond (\$550k)
Total Offense: 28,238,000

Spots needed to fill: Two in the lineup, one scratch.

Defensemen

Dubbed by TSN the "No-name-defense", the Devils continued their unparalleled standard for defense. Tough decisions await them, especially those concerning UFA Johnny Oduya.

UFA: Johnny Oduya, Niclas Havelid
RFA: Andy Greene

No surprise to anyone here—the demand for puck-moving defenseman is overly high. Of course, priority number one is re-signing Oduya. It has to be done, and it will be done.

I shudder to think of the price-tag Oduya will command, which is why I'm saying, as move number one of the offseason, Devils trade D Bryce Salvador to (XXXX) for a fourth-round pick. It can be done, and it should be done.

Johnny Oduya will command a nice little chunk of change. The Devils need to pay him his money. That is a must. I think \$3.5M a year will keep him in a Devils sweater. Devils re-sign D Johnny Oduya, four years, \$14.5M.

Niclas Havelid, for those of you who don't know, is already gone. Devils' D Niclas Havelid leaves NHL.

Andy Greene should, and will, be kept for the minimum 10% increase. Devils re-sign Andrew Greene, one year, \$660k.

Which leaves the defense as follows:
Martin (\$3.8M)
Oduya (\$3.5M)
White (\$3.0M)
Mottau (\$742k)
Greene (\$660K)
Total: \$11,702,000

Spots needed to fill: One in the lineup, one scratch.

Now, let's take a breath and re-cap. Before going into UFA's and Lowell Call-Up's, let's take a look at your Devils headlines:

Devils Let Brian Gionta Walk
Devils, John Madden, part ways after nine years.

Bobby Holik Retires
Devils Show no Interest in Mike Rupp
Devils re-sign Shanahan, 1y/1M
Devils re-sign Travis Zajac, 4y/12M
Devils Pick up option on Leblond, 1y/550k
Devils re-sign D Johnny Oduya, four years, \$14.5M.
Devils' D Niclas Havelid leaves NHL.
Devils re-sign Andrew Greene, one year, 660k.

Now let's talk money. With three roster spots to fill with NHL-caliber players, and two more to scratch, the Devils have already used up \$39.94M. TSN expects the cap to be at \$55.00M, so we'll use that. This leaves the Devils with \$15.06 million in cap room. Not too bad, if I do say so myself.

So, let's figure out these UFAs.

Forwards

Notable UFAs: Henrik Sedin, Daniel Sedin, Marian Hossa, Marian Gaborik, Martin Havlat, Mike Knuble, Petr Sykora, Mike Cammalleri, Maxim Afinogenov, Alex Tanguay, Erik Cole, Saku Koivu, Steve Sullivan, Nik Antropov, Robert Lang, Sergei Fedorov, Keith Tkachuk, Taylor Pyatt, Manny Malhotra, Samuel Pahlsson.

Now, what are our needs? If you ask me, Dainius Zubrus is not a top-six forward, and certainly not a top-two center.

I'd like to address the center position, budget permitting. The three best guys for the job, in my opinion, are Mike Cammalleri, Keith Tkachuk, and Robert Lang.

Assuming the Devils don't make the big enough splash needed to bring in Cammalleri, I'd like to see the Devils nab Tkachuk. A bigger, better version of Zubrus, Tkachuk gives Elias a proven center for a year. He will also bolster the power play while keeping the Devils pockets' safe for the 2010 off season, where they'll have to deal with the big re-signing of Paul Martin. Devils Sign Blues' F Keith Tkachuk, one year, \$4M.

In my opinion, that's enough of a splash for this offense. I'd like to see some Lowell call-ups with Matt Halischuk (Devils call up Matt Halischuk, \$875k cap hit) and Rod Pelley (Devils call up Rod Pelley, \$675k cap hit). Now with a full offense, the Devils lines will look like this:

Parise (\$3.2M) - Zajac (\$3.0M) - Langenbrunner (2.8M)
Elias (\$6.0M) - Tkachuk (\$4.0M) - Rolston (\$5.0M)
Halischuk (\$875k) - Zubrus (\$3.4M) - Clarkson (\$838k)
Pandolfo (\$2.5M) - Pelley (\$675k) - Shanahan (\$1M)
Extra: Leblond (\$550k)

Offense (New players in Italics)
Elias (\$6.0M)
Rolston (\$5.0M)
Tkachuk (\$4.0M)
Zubrus (\$3.4M)
Parise (\$3.2M)
Zajac (\$3.0M)
Langenbrunner (\$2.8M)
Pandolfo (\$2.5M)
Shanahan (\$1.0M)
Halischuk (\$875k)
Clarkson (\$838k)
Pelley (\$675K)
Leblond (\$550k)
Total Offense: \$33,738,000

Defensemen

Notable UFAs: Scott Niedermayer, Mathieu Schneider, Rob Blake, Sergei Zubov, Jay Bouwmeester, Adrian Aucoin, Derek Morris, Mattias Ohlund, Jaroslav Spacek, Paul Mara, Mike Komisarek, Marc-Andre Bergeron, Francois Beauchemin, Jordan Leopold, Dennis Seidenberg.

Again, you have to ask yourself, what are the needs of the team? Since we are now assuming the Devils still have Johnny Oduya, the need for a puck-moving D-Man isn't as desperate as it otherwise would be. I'd love to see the Devils grab somebody like Jaroslav Spacek, Beauchemin, or Ohlund. But with the cap, it's not exactly a plausible affair.

With the departure of Bryce Salvador, the Devils could really use some veteran prowess minding the blueline, at the right price. The guy I'm looking at is Darryl Sydor, formerly of Dallas. The 16-year vet has grit, determination, and two Cups to his name—and because of his diminishing offensive skill, he could come at a cheap price. Devils sign Darryl Sydor, one year, \$2 million.

A smart call-up would be the promising defenseman Matt Corrente, who looks like he has the tools to make it at the next level. In fact, I'd like to see him in the top six, with Greene sitting on the scratched list. Devils call-up Matt Corrente, \$850k cap hit.

Our pairings would look like this:

Martin (\$3.8M) - White (\$3.0M)
Oduya (\$3.5M) - Sydor (\$2.0M)
Mottau (\$742k) - Corrente (\$850k)
Greene (\$660k)

Total: \$14,552,000

Goaltending

There's not too much to say here. Brodeur will be New Jersey's starter for the 15th season in a row, no questions asked. Scott Clemmensen was great—and as a result, will sign a seven-figure contract with another NHL team, not us. Kevin Weekes has been hurt far too often to justify a return as backup.

UFA: Kevin Weekes, Clemmensen
RFA: None

Again, Weekesie probably isn't going to be back. And I wish the best of luck to Clemmer, hopefully he gets his shot at a starting job somewhere else. Devils let Weekes, Clemmensen walk.

Since the Devils don't have any in-house NHL-ready goalies, they'll likely need to go after someone in the UFA market. Some notables include Garon, Norrena, Johnson, Tellqvist, Conklin, Boucher, Sanford, Valiquette, and Danis. Most of these guys are ubiquitous. So, I'll say the Devils sign Ty Conklin, two years, \$2 million.

Brodeur (\$5.2M)
Conklin (\$1M)

Cap Charge: \$6.200M.

Now, let's throw it all together. A roster sheet would look like this:

Elias (\$6.0M)
Rolston (\$5.0M)
Tkachuk (\$4.0M)
Zubrus (\$3.4M)
Parise (\$3.2M)
Zajac (\$3.0M)
Langenbrunner (\$2.8M)
Pandolfo (\$2.5M)
Shanahan (\$1.0M)
Halischuk (\$875k)
Clarkson (\$838k)
Pelley (\$675K)
Leblond (\$550k)
--------------
Martin (\$3.8M)
Oduya (\$3.5M)
White (\$3.0M)
Sydor (\$2.0M)
Corrente (\$850K)
Mottau (\$742k)
Greene (\$660K)
--------------
Brodeur (\$5.2M)
Conklin (\$1M)

Which gives a total salary cap of, drum roll please...

\$54,490,000
\$410,000 under the cap

Now, since I'm safe, here's your 2010 New Jersey Devils:

Parise (\$3.2M) - Zajac (\$3.0M) - Langenbrunner (2.8M)
Elias (\$6.0M) - Tkachuk (\$4.0M) - Rolston (\$5.0M)
Halischuk (\$875k) - Zubrus (\$3.4M) - Clarkson (\$838k)
Pandolfo (\$2.5M) - Pelley (\$675k) - Shanahan (\$1M)

Martin (\$3.8M) - White (\$3.0M)
Oduya (\$3.5M) - Sydor (\$2.0M)
Mottau (\$742k) - Corrente (\$850k)

Extra: Leblond (\$550k), Greene (660k)

Brodeur (\$5.2M)
Conklin (\$1M)