Bryce Salvador (Brian Babineau/Getty Images)
Bryce Salvador missed 67 games in 2014-15 due to back injuries and hasn’t committed to playing next season. Set to become an unrestricted free agent, the 39-year-old blueliner was the captain of the Devils for the past three seasons, but said he was going to give up the ‘C’ this season regardless of his contract status.
Last season, Bryce Salvador, at 38, played only 15 games and registered just two assists before a lower body injury sidelined him for the remainder of the year. It’s likely not the way Salvador, the New Jersey Devils captain last season, saw his career ending, but as a pending unrestricted free agent, he’s uncertain what his future holds.
What kept Salvador out of the lineup last season was a bad back – he suffered from both a bulging disk and nerve damage – but, in speaking with The Record’s Tom Gulitti, it appears Salvador is trying to stay in shape to make one last run at ending his career on his terms.
“I don't necessarily need a contract to go to training camp,” Salvador told Gulitti.
While he’s right, there’s some uncertainty about where, exactly, that contract will come from. For the past several seasons, Salvador hasn’t been quite as effective as he was in his younger years. In the three years before the 2010-11 campaign, Salvador broke at least double-digit point totals with his career high coming in 2008-09 when he scored three goals and 16 points.
The 2010-11 campaign was a tough one for the veteran blueliner, though. After suffering a concussion before the season began, Salvador proceeded to miss the entire campaign. He returned the following season and played in all 82 games for New Jersey, recording nine points, all assists.
“Right now, there's just so much going on in my life in terms of a lot of things, personal things with my family,” Salvador told Gulitti. “So, I'm just going to see how things go and see where you are come August or September. I'm not putting any pressure on anything or anybody."
The family issue is something Salvador touched on several times with Gulitti, saying it’s an issue with one family member that is leading him to consider waiting until everything is settled before making a decision about his future. Salvador did add that he was supposed to speak with Devils GM Ray Shero at coach John Hynes’ introductory press conference, but ended up having to travel for family reasons. Salvador has been with New Jersey since the 2007-08 season.
Even if he were to stay with the Devils, Salvador, now 39, said he would have likely given up the captaincy regardless of whether or not he re-signed in New Jersey, citing the need for him to aid in the transition of the leadership role.
Whether or not he’s back as a Devil is yet to be determined, but Salvador is staying prepared. And come the end of summer, maybe he’ll be on the hunt for his next destination.
“It's just one of those things that I'm training, I'm in shape and will really assess come August,” he said. “There's no rush for anyone right now. I'm in no rush to jump into a contract with any team.”