October 06, 2010
The New Jersey Devils were once called "an interchangeable flock of forwards" by then-Rangers Coach Colin Campbell. Because of the salary cap, the flock has thinned to start the season.
GM Lou Lamoriello has said the team is waiting for NHL approval of these moves; and while they're expected to be affirmed, "Devils" and "waiting for NHL approval" is giving us some nasty flashbacks to the summer.
But because they're so tight against the cap, the Devils are going with just 11 forwards on their NHL roster to start the season. From Fire & Ice:
With Salvador and Salmela on LTIR, the Devils are permitted to go above the $59.4 million cap by the amount of their cap hits - a total of $3,512,500. That puts them under the cap by just $84,168 with the NHL minimum of 20 players on their roster, not including unsigned forward Adam Mair(notes), who continues to practice with the team. Right now, they have just 11 forwards, seven defensemen and two goaltenders.
The Devils could still make other moves to change their roster before Friday night's regular season opener against Dallas, but must remain below the salary cap in doing so.
Barring further moves, the Devils have no margin for illness or injury. It'd be just like the Calgary Flames back in 2009, skating with 17 players because of the cap and injuries. So what do the Devils reach for first: The bubble-wrap for Parise and Kovalchuk or flu shots?
Via Tom Gulitti, here's how the Devils will go to 11 (like Spinal Tap):
Forwards (11): Zach Parise(notes), Travis Zajac(notes), Ilya Kovalchuk(notes), Patrik Elias(notes), Jason Arnott(notes), Jamie Langenbrunner(notes), Brian Rolston(notes), Dainius Zubrus(notes), David Clarkson(notes), Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond(notes), Rod Pelley(notes).
So a temporary, exhausting fix for the Devils today. The Kovalchuk contract (and the NHL's escalation his cap hit by rejecting the Devils' first contract) will likely get most of the blame for this mess. But look at these salaries: Blame Lamoriello's affinity for Brian Rolston before you blame Kovalchuk.
UPDATE: Via Fire and Ice, the Devils have decided to go with 12 forwards after all:
Defenseman Matt Taormina(notes) was assigned to Albany of the AHL and center Adam Henrique has been recalled. The moves leave the Devils with the minimum 20 players-12 forwards, six defensemen and two goaltenders-and just $35,835 under the $59.4 million cap.
Lamoriello indicated there might be roster changes before Friday's night's regular season opener against Dallas. "That's just the opening day roster and rosters can changed day to day," he said.
There's speculation that Henrique could be a place-holder for Mair.