New Jersey Devils President/GM/Ruler of All He Surveys Lou Lamoriello makes two kinds of free-agent signings in the offseason.
The first are clever, smartly budgeted moves that have kept the Devils in contention for the last 20 years.
The second are jittery, panicky reactions to adversity that strikes the team.
The best example of the latter was in 2005, when Scott Niedermayer left the Devils for the Anaheim Ducks, and Lamoriello responded with perhaps two of his worst moves ever: Signing 36-year-old Vladimir Malakhov and 33-year-old Dan McGillis to 2-year deals.
Malakhov soon entered into some quasi-retirement before his cap hit was dealt to the San Jose Sharks. McGillis was banished to the AHL.
Friday’s Ryane Clowe signing smacked of that level of desperation: 5 years for $24.25 million, for a concussion prone player with statistic regression, all because David Clarkson took his power forward game to Toronto.
Is signing Michael Ryder for two years the same sort of hasty move?
The Devils gave Ryder a two-year contract for $3.5 million per season, after the 33-year-old winger split time with Dallas and Montreal last season.
Ryder scores goals, and the Devils need more of them. That’s the bottom line. For $3.5 million Ryder’s a good play; much more Category ‘A’ than Category ‘B’ for Lamoriello. Without question a top six forward for a team that, again, needed them.
Clowe is, too. The difference is term and durability: Ryder’s a short-term transition player who doesn’t miss time, and Clowe is a 5-year investment.