Travis Zajac, Zach Parise and Jamie Langenbrunner may not be together next season if the Devils are forced to make some moves. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Now that the New Jersey Devils finally have superstar winger Ilya Kovalchuk under contract, they’ll have to dump some salary to get under the $59.4 million salary cap for the upcoming season.
Kovalchuk’s devilish new salary ($6.66 million per season - get it? Mark of the beast? Who said GM Lou Lamoriello lacked a sense of humor?) pushed the Devils more than $3 million above the cap ceiling, leading to suggestions Lamoriello will have to dump as much as $4 to $6 million to become cap compliant.
For more than a week leading up to the league’s approval of Kovalchuk’s contract, the names of forwards Dainius Zubrus, Jamie Langenbrunner and Travis Zajac along with defenseman Bryce Salvador were kicked around the rumor mill. With the Devils’ season-opener less than a month away, we can expect that trend to continue throughout September.
Of the aforementioned, Langenbrunner and Zajac would have considerably more value on the trade market than Salvador and Zubrus.
Langenbrunner, however, is the Devils captain, has a no-trade clause and hasn’t been asked to waive it. Zajac was re-signed last summer to a four-year contract and is entering his playing prime.
It’s anyone’s guess what Lamoriello will do and there will certainly be no shortage of guesswork on what his plans end up being.
This isn’t the first time Lamoriello has faced a cap crush. Back in 2005-06, he found himself over the salary cap, but solved the problem by demoting defenseman Dan McGillis, placing Alexander Mogilny on long-term injury status and trading Vladimir Malakhov to the San Jose Sharks.
It’s a safe assumption Lamoriello will find another means to clear cap space without moving valuable talent like Langenbrunner and Zajac.
Boston Bruins center Marc Savard’s confession to the Ottawa Sun earlier this summer that he was “hurt” by the trade rumors swirling about him did little to stop speculation throughout the off-season the Bruins were actively shopping him.
Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli was criticized in some of those reports for not squashing these rumors outright, but the Boston Globe reported Friday Chiarelli spoke with Savard after reading the Sun report, assuring the center he won’t be dealt.
Barring Chiarelli getting an offer too good to refuse - something that isn’t likely at this time of year - expect Savard to be in the Bruins lineup when they start the season at home on Oct. 9 against the Phoenix Coyotes.
The San Jose Sharks recent signing of former Chicago Blackhawks goalie Antti Niemi creates a logjam between the pipes, as the Sharks already have Antero Niittymaki and Thomas Greiss under contract for the upcoming season.
Greiss admitted to the San Jose Mercury News he was disappointed at the prospect of becoming the team’s No. 3 goalie. It is possible the Niemi signing will lead to Greiss being moved to another team via trade or waivers in order for him to get a shot at becoming an NHL regular.
The 24-year-old German netminder will earn $550,000 this season and will be a restricted free agent next summer, which could make him attractive for teams seeking affordable depth between the pipes.
Rumor Roundup appears Mondays and Thursdays only on thehockeynews.com. Lyle Richardson has been an NHL commentator since 1998 on his website, spectorshockey.net, and is a contributing writer for Foxsports.com and Eishockey Magazine.