After all these years and three Stanley Cups, have we still not learned to trust Lou? He's insuring we aren't screwed next season by investing in our young talent. Much like the NHL champion Pittsburgh Penguins, we realize signing veteran free agents at overpriced contracts isn't going to save us. We must develop our prospects.
We have a replacement for everyone that left, and will save money and stay under the cap for this season as well as next. This year didn't see a great crop of free agents anyways, next year we'll be in a better position to shop around while other teams struggle to adjust to the lower cap.
As much as I loved the players that left in the off season, you really need to take a step back and take a hard look at their actual production last season. We didn't lose anything that isn't replaceable.
The 2009 draft was very promising and we have a lot to look forward to with the development of Jacob Josefson, Eric Gelinas, and Alexander Urbom as well. There's no reason to think we won't be contenders for years to come.
--Players that left and what they signed for:
C John Madden - $2.75M, 1 year
Madden's numbers have been steadily dropping and injuries have started to become a problem. Getting a younger, faster center in and developing them this season is vital.
RW Brian Gionta - $25M, 5 years
Gionta hasn't had a season up to his potential in years. While I loved Gio personally, his production isn't where it should be anymore. Whether he's lost the drive to compete or just needs a change of scenery, we would not under any means pay him $5M a season.
F Mike Rupp - $1.6M, 2 years
Rupp's production is minimal at best and won't be missed, he's an enforcer/fighter and is easily replaced in that role by Clarkson.
G Scott Clemmensen - $3.6M, 3 years
Clemm is the only one that really hurts, he had a great year for us last season and it would be great having him in case Brodeur is injured again. I'm happy he's going to Florida to really get his shot, he deserves it. We've already signed a backup, and Brodeur's injury problems aren't frequent.
C Rod Pelley - Lowell
At 6 feet, 200 pounds, the young center and captain of the Lowell Devils, Pelley picked up thirty three points in fifty seven games for them last season. It's expected he will step up this year and replace John Madden.
LW Pierre-Luc Leblond - Lowell
PL is a tough hard-nosed winger who played limited time for New Jersey last year, splitting time with Lowell. Leblond is known more defensively than offensively and should see an increased time on power-play's this season as well as on the 3rd or 4th line while he develops.
D Jay Leach - Lowell
An experienced defenseman, Leach is a solid two-way player. Expect him to make the jump back up to New Jersey this year and stick around the entire season.
G Yann Danis - NY Islanders FA
Yann played in a career high 31 games last season for the New York Islanders. He posted a 2.86 Goals Against Average, .910 save percentage, and had 2 shutouts. He's a promising backup while Jeff Frazee develops at Lowell.
Long-shot prospects to make the roster this year from Lowell:
LW Jon DiSalvatore, C Petr Vrana, LW Stephen Gionta, RW Nicklas Bergfors