On Friday, the agonizing saga of "will Ilya Kovalchuk play for the Devils" came to an end as the league finally approved the 15 year/$100 million contract. The official cap number for Ilya Kovalchuk is $6.66 million per year (sign of the beast!!). Yesterday marked the "1 month to go" countdown until the Devils open the 2010/2011 season which means the real fun begins now.
If you take a quick peak at capgeek.com (which most Devils fans having been doing regularly since July 1st), you will notice that the Devils are currently over the cap by 2.96 million dollars. I would estimate that the Devils would probably like to shed an additional 2 million beyond that to squeeze under the cap comfortably. So begins the 2010/2011 Roster Purge for the NJ Devils and we ask the question "who goes?"
Looking quickly at the numbers for the Devils, Bryce Salvador is slated to make 2.9 million this season. Salvador was a good player for the Devils last season but the Devils have a number of defenseman that can easily fill the role that Salvador plays. Being that he is a decent player with a pretty reasonable salary, I believe he will be very easy to move. Salvador is one of the few on the roster that doesn't own a no-trade clause (NTC) which also makes moving him seem attractive but he can't be the only one that goes.
A lot of people feel that NJ should move Langebrunner or Rolston to make room for Kovalchuk but I have to disagree with that thought. Rolston hasn't played up to the contract that was given to him a few years ago which makes an argument as to why he should go but lets be honest, who is going to want to take on that contract? Besides, Rolston has something that I dearly want to hold on to. By putting Kovalchuk and Rolston on the points during the Powerplay, the Devils possess two incredible shots that will prove to be tough for any penalty killing unit. For that reason alone, I am not ready to ship Rolston out of town.
As for Jamie Langenbrunner, I know he had his issues with the coaching staff last season but he has 1 year remaining on his contract and he's proven to be the type of player that can be clutch in certain situations. He's also a leader on the ice and when paired with Zajac and Parise, he certainly does produce.
Zajac, Parise and Clarkson are 3 guys that certainly aren't going anywhere and NTC for Elias, Arnott make them unlikely candidates as well, not to mention Arnott seems to have been added to the roster specifically for Elias. I can't imagine the Devils signing a new player on July 1st just to ship him out of town before the season so I would take Tallinder's name of the list of possibilities. Colin White, who I would love to see go, has a NTC and isn't a likely candidate.
So that leave Dainius Zubrus and his 3.4 million dollar contract. I would hate to get rid of Zubrus because of his size but shedding his contract, along with Salvador would put the Devils comfortably under the cap and along with UFA's next season, leave room to sign Parise long term. Zubrus hasn't ever done much minus his 4 goal game in TB back in 2009 but he does throw some big hits now and then. Thankfully the Devils signed A-Train, Anton Volchenkov who is a big hitter.
So there you have it, my vote for players to be missing from the Devils roster on October 6th. Do you agree or disagree? Please let me know in the comments below.