Devils sign Greene to five year, $25 million extension

Devils’ defenseman Andy Greene will be wearing the red and white for the next six years

It’s been quite a while since the Devils have had a drama-free offseason with no big question marks looming over the future of the franchise given our recent ownership issues, along with the Ilya Kovalchuk and Zach Parise fiascoes that overshadowed our last two summers.  After improving our scoring with the addition of Mike Cammalleri and others, along with re-signing goaltender Cory Schnieder to a seven-year extension earlier this month, GM Lou Lamoriello completed a hat trick of neccesary moves by the team this summer after announcing a long-term extension for defenseman Andy Greene earlier this afternoon.  Terms weren’t immediately disclosed but eventually it was leaked that the extension was for five years at $5 million per, a relative bargain considering what other UFA’s and RFA’s have been going for this offseason!

Clearly re-signing Andy was important on a lot of fronts.  Not the least of which is the fact the Devils only had one other defenseman under contract for next year – sophomore Jon Merrill on the last year of his ELC.  Locking up a guy who’s shockingly gone from being an UDFA to this team’s undisputed #1 defenseman over at least the last three seasons is obviously important from a talent aspect.  And obviously the Devils didn’t want the FA questions looming around Greene (or Schnieder) all season the way they were a distraction with Parise three years ago and Clarkson two years ago.  Even to a degree Martin Brodeur last year, and his public divorce from the Devils.  Almost as an afterthought at today’s conference call Lou admitted there was a ‘mutual understanding’ between him and Brodeur vis-a-vis what Marty wants:

“Marty and I have come to an agreement that is best for both himself and the organization, and there’s nothing negative about that,” Lamoriello said. “Marty knows what it is to be a No. 1 goalie and to have that feeling, and that’s what he wants. Cory feels the same way.

“I think it’s time to move forward, but never negate what Marty has brought [to the Devils], nor was the door ever shut. It was a mutual understanding of what was best for both parties. Marty will always be a Devil and the communication with him is still there, even recently.”

Certainly that last bit is true, given the fact no fewer than three of Brodeur’s sons were at the Devils’ recent rookie camp.

However, today’s mostly about Andy and looking forward.  While it was important for the team to lock Greene up long-term, it was refreshingly important for Andy to remain a Devil as well.  After being burned by any number of FA’s over the years, this is the second time Andy’s taken less money to remain since he turned down bigger-money offers in 2011 when he did get to FA, and clearly could have gotten more money next offseason given the FA stupidity of this offseason and just about every other offseason in the NHL.

“Having one more year left on my current deal, Lou and I sat down in our normal at the end of the year meeting and he just mentioned it briefly that it was something we’d be interested in and, obviously, that’s exactly what I wanted,” Greene said. “Like I said the last time I re-signed here (July 1, 2011), I came in as a Devil and I’m very fortunate to continue my career as a Devil.

While Greene’s extension doesn’t affect the Devils’ cap this year, going forward the team currently has nearly $46 million committed to twelve players for next year, but just six players signed beyond 2015-16 – center Travis Zajac, wingers Adam Henrique and Ryane Clowe, recent FA signing Cammalleri, as well as Greene/Schnieder.  With all of the younger defensemen that will be given an opportunity this season as well as those still in the pipeline, clearly the idea is to have a bunch of cheaper contracts on D while we spend to lock up our key players and improve the forward core.

Despite there still being questions about next year’s team – the age/injury history of most of our key players being chief among them – you can’t really argue against anything Lou’s done this offseason.  Clearly he did what he had to do in both improving the offense (as well as adding to our general forward depth) and locking up both our top defenseman and the goaltender we have so much of our future invested in.  At the moment, the only players that remain unsigned are RFA Eric Gelinas and UFA Ryan Carter, seemingly still in limbo waiting for something to happen.  With over a month to go before camp though, all of the dark clouds have seemingly dissapeared from the skies for the moment.

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UPDATE: Andy Greene gets 5 for $25 million

Updating the previous story, Andy Greene gets five years for $25 million. At an average cap hit of $5 million, it’s fair market value for the Devils’ top defenseman. I’m sure Hasan will have more reaction to Greene’s new deal.

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Devils sign Andy Greene to extension

Whole Lot Of Greene: The Devils announced that they've signed defenseman Andy Greene to a long-term contract.

Whole Lot Of Greene: The Devils announced that they’ve signed defenseman Andy Greene to a long-term contract.

The Devils have signed Andy Greene to a long-term contract. At a 4 PM conference call, Lou Lamoriello made the announcement. Terms were disclosed. The 31-year old defenseman was entering the final year and will earn $3.5 million this season. He posted a career high eight goals and added 24 assists for 32 points while playing all 82 games in ’13-14. Three of his eight markers came on the power play.

A smart puck moving defenseman who can play any situation, Greene would’ve hit the market next summer. Easily their best overall blueliner, it was imperative that the Devils retained him. He anchors the D and can be relied on to play important minutes. Greene led all Devil skaters with an average ice-time of 24:34 which tied with Paul Martin for 19th among NHL defensemen. Martin is probably a good comparable. Ironically, the former Devil plays a similar style and is probably the Pens’ best overall.

From InsideHockey’s Michelle Kenneth, Lamoriello emphasized Greene’s ability and leadership. Perhaps he’ll become the Devils’ next captain following Bryce Salvador. The vet is entering his final year. With Greene locked up, it makes sense.

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Youth Served: Investing In Younger Assets Wiser Choice

Deals like the one Sabre Tyler Ennis received are better investments than overpaying on July 1.  Getty Images

Deals like the one Sabre Tyler Ennis received are better investments than overpaying on July 1.
Getty Images

Tyler Ennis recently signed a new contract that’ll pay him $23 million over five years. It wasn’t your ordinary deal. In Year 1, Ennis will earn $7.3 million. He’ll follow that up by making $4.75 million in Year 2. The last three years, he’ll get paid $3.65 million. A potential bargain if Ennis can improve on two 20-goal seasons. In ’13-14, he tallied a career high 21 goals along with 22 assists. His 43 points trailed only team leading scorer Cody Hodgson (20-24-44).

By locking up Ennis long-term, the Sabres are banking on the 24-year old forward to perform consistently. Consistency is a good adjective to describe some of the deals we’ve seen handed out this summer. Ennis’ average cap hit is $4.6 million. Given the absurdity of NHL GMs, it’s in line with the market. Compared to Derick Brassard, who just signed a five-year $25 million deal with the Rangers, it’s a good gamble by Buffalo GM Tim Murray.

Over 267 career games, Ennis has recorded 69 goals and 97 assists totaling 166 points. By comparison, Brassard has 81 goals and 144 assists for 225 points in 403 games. He’s played longer but still hasn’t produced a 20-goal or 50-point season. Interestingly, Brassard’s contract was also frontloaded. In the first two years, he’ll earn $13 million including $7 million in Year 1. In fact, he’ll receive $18 million over the first three years before his salary drops to $3.5 million the final two years. That can make him more attractive for other teams. Similar to Ennis.

It’s an interesting dynamic. While Rick Nash’s salary will increase from $7.9 million to $8 million and then $8.2 million by 2017-18, Dan Girardi’s salary decreases. He’ll earn $7 million in each of the first two seasons. It’ll then go down to $6 million by Year 3 and then drop to $5 million in Year 4. The final two years, it drops to $4 million. Not every long-term deal does this. In Ryan McDonagh’s case, a modest $4.7 million cap hit through 2018-19 translates to $4.3 million this season and $4.5 million in 2015-16. By the final year, he’ll earn $5.3 million and remain a huge bargain. By locking him up last summer, the Rangers saved money. On the flipside, a bridge deal for Derek Stepan will result in him earning more than McDonagh next summer. What if Ranger GM Glen Sather had done a long-term deal instead? To be fair, he didn’t have enough space and squeezed Stepan, who caved after a holdout.

Here’s some food for thought. Devil architect Lou Lamoriello rewarded Adam Henrique with a six-year $24 million contract last summer. The 2012 playoff hero responded with a strong finish in Year 1 by leading the Devils with a career high 25 goals and adding 18 helpers totaling 43 points. On a low scoring team that relied mostly on Jaromir Jagr, Henrique was a bright spot also notching seven power play goals and a team-leading three shorthanded goals. With a favorable cap hit of $4 million thru 2018-19, the 24-year old center looks like a bargain. By the final year of the contract, he’ll earn $5.5 million. Henrique will be 29 by the conclusion.

Compared to seeing executives spend wildly on July 1 for veterans, it makes better financial sense to invest in younger players. What you’re seeing with Ennis, Brassard, Henrique and now Jake Gardiner, who signed a five-year deal worth $20.25 million with the Leafs- are teams paying for potential. A wiser bet than handing out crazy money for David Clarkson.

At least with younger players, they have room to grow and shouldn’t break down as much. Barring injuries or unforeseen lack of production (ex. Ville Leino), it’s usually a safer bet. The more teams invest in younger assets, the better.

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Rangers Re-sign Brassard For Five Years $25 Million

Derick Brassard celebrates a goal with teammates Benoit Pouliot and Ryan McDonagh. His overtime winner allowed the Rangers to prevail over the Penguins in Game 1 3-2. AP Photos/Gene J. Puskar

Derick Brassard celebrates a goal with teammates Benoit Pouliot and Ryan McDonagh. His overtime winner allowed the Rangers to prevail over the Penguins in Game 1 3-2.
AP Photos/Gene J. Puskar

A day before their scheduled arbitration hearing, the Rangers and Derick Brassard beat the clock by reaching agreement on a new five-year contract worth a reported $25 million. New York Post beat writer Larry Brooks broke the story in a tweet.

Honestly, I hate the deal. Not because Brassard isn’t worth it but rather due to the term which includes an all too predictable no-trade clause. Sure. He’s been a good player since coming over as part of the Marian Gaborik deal on April 3, 2013. The 26-year old center followed up a strong postseason in which he led the Rangers with 12 points (2-10-12) by anchoring the third line comprised of Mats Zuccarello and Benoit Pouliot. After a slow start, the trio became Alain Vigneault’s most consistent scoring line. Without them, the club doesn’t reach the Stanley Cup Final.

In his seventh season, Brassard set personal bests in games played (81), goals (18), power play goals (7), power play points (18) and game-winners (4). He tallied 18 goals and 27 assists for 45 points. The second highest total of his career. The former Columbus ’06 first round pick had another good playoffs notching six goals and six helpers with a plus-four rating. He was instrumental during the team’s second round comeback against the Pens scoring and setting up big goals to climb out of a 3-1 series deficit.

This past year, he earned $3.7 million. A restricted free agent, Brassard was seeking in the neighborhood of $5 million. Rather than let him go to arbitration and become a potential unrestricted free agent next summer, Glen Sather opted to lock him up. The positive is that he won’t have to worry about Brassard and can turn his attention to Marc Staal, Mats Zuccarello and Derek Stepan, who should be in line for $6 million per year when his bridge deal expires in 2015. Stepan is the club’s number one center. With Ryan O’Reilly and the Avalanche settling on two years, $12 million his price has been set.

If you’re asking me point blank, I don’t think he’s worth that money. However, in what can best be described as a crazy market, Stepan will get paid. Under the old rules, I feel he’s worth $4 million. But he’ll make $3.85 million in 2014-15. At 24, he enters his fifth year. Coming off a postseason that saw him post five goals and 10 assists tying Martin St. Louis for second in team scoring, the sky’s the limit. It’ll come with a lot of expectations and a price. It would be nice to see him improve on faceoffs.

From the looks of it, the Blueshirts will have a combined $11 million tied up in their top two centers over the long haul. The question is where does that leave Staal and Zuccarello? Don’t forget St. Louis will also be in his final year. Who knows what he’ll decide. By next summer, he’ll be 40. Even with Sather gambling on Brassard, he’s faced with more questions surrounding the club’s future. This year’s cap is $69 million. He has enough room to re-sign John Moore with approximately $4 million left. How much will the cap increase for ’15-16? That will go a long way to deciding on which players stay.

Carl Hagelin also is restricted next summer. In other words, it’s time to find out about some of their prospects. They can’t keep spending. It’s now a matter of retaining key pieces to remain competitive and see which kids are capable of contributing. Is J.T. Miller ready or has he been mishandled by an organization that signed him after one year of junior? He’s already proven capable of performing in the AHL going 15-27-42 in 41 games for the Wolf Pack. He still must prove himself under Vigneault, who critiqued him. There’s also Oscar Lindberg, Jesper Fast, Danny Kristo and Ryan Bourque who all could be in play this September.

Personally, I don’t like where the league’s headed. The more you see irresponsible GMs throw money around like wildfire, the nuttier it’ll be. Zuccarello got over a 300 percent raise and was praised for taking less. At $3.5 million, it’s probably the right figure. But don’t forget he got it off one year. In the old days, you had to earn it. It just seems more and more, executives are gambling. There’s no right or wrong answer here. I can’t imagine what the market will become by 2021-22. I would rather not.

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Rangers and Kreider avoid arbitration: 2 Years $4.95 million

Chris Kreider scores a power play goal in Game 5.  AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill

Chris Kreider scores a power play goal in Game 5.
AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill

A day after coming to an agreement with Mats Zuccarello, the Rangers and restricted free agent Chris Kreider beat the clock avoiding arbitration by agreeing to a two-year $4.95 million contract. The deal will pay Kreider $2.35 million in ’14-15 and $2.6 million in ’15-16.

A former ’09 first round pick, the 23-year old Kreider completed his first full season posting 17 goals and 20 assists with a team best plus-14 rating in 66 games. The 6-3, 226-pound forward matured under Alain Vigneault, who emphasized the former Boston College standout utilize his size creating a net presence. He added five goals and eight assists in the playoffs.

After failing to make the roster out of camp, Kreider came back with a vengeance playing with more edge. Using his size, speed and strength, he became a thorn in the side of opposing goalies by netting six power play goals. When he wasn’t scoring, Kreider used his game breaking speed accidentally injuring Carey Price in the Eastern Conference Final. It led to Michel Therrien accusing him of wrong doing and former teammate Brandon Prust coining the phrase “accidentally on purpose.

Under the new contract, Kreider’s average cap hit is $2.475 million over the next two seasons. After re-signing Zuccarello ($3.5 million) and Kreider, Glen Sather is left with approximately $6.3 million for RFA’s Derick Brassard and John Moore. Brassard has filed for arbitration while Moore isn’t eligible. With two-thirds of the key forwards out of the way, Slats will turn his attention to Brassard, who earned $3.7 million last year. Figure between $4.5 and 5 million leaving enough wiggle room to fit Moore in.

As for Kreider, he’s a building block who should only improve. What can he do if he’s able to play a full 82? Expectations will be higher with a spot on either the first or second line possible. His most success came playing with former WJC linemate Derek Stepan, who also teamed with Rick Nash. It’ll be interesting to see if Vigneault keeps them together or decided to separate his top two left wings and moves up Martin St. Louis.

Don’t forget Carl Hagelin is entering the final year of his contract and will earn $2.4 million. Like Stepan, he’s restricted next summer. Stepan is in the last year of a bridge deal and set to make $3.85 million. With Marc Staal in the final year of a contract making $5.45 million before turning unrestricted in 2015 and the potential of Zuccarello and Brassard also possibly UFA’s, Sather will have his work cut out for him next year.

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Rangers and Zuccarello agree on 1-year $3.5 million

Mats Zuccarello sports the Broadway Hat in a recent Rangers win.  Getty Images/

Mats Zuccarello sports the Broadway Hat in a Rangers win last season.
Getty Images/

Yesterday, the Rangers and Mats Zuccarello avoided arbitration. They reached agreement on a one-year $3.5 million deal. This is the first bit of good news in weeks. In what’s otherwise been an all too predictable disappointing July, at least Glen Sather was able to get Zuccarello at a reasonable cost.

The 26-year old Norwegian set career highs in goals (19), assists (40) and points (59) while contributing five goals and eight assists in the postseason. One of their most consistent performers, Zuccarello broke out playing on the third line anchored by Derick Brassard and ex-Ranger Benoit Pouliot. It was the play of that scoring unit which was instrumental in helping the team make their first trip to the Stanley Cup Final in 20 years. The creativity of Zuccarello was on display along with a willingness to mix it up despite his smallish 5-7, 179-pound frame.

A fan favorite, he heard chants of “Zuuuccc,” from MSG. A year away from unrestricted free agency, Zuccarello settled for less than a million after reportedly asking for $4.5 million. Rather than go to arbitration which can be an ugly process, he came down and took one for the team. Though I’d hardly call a $2.35 million raise following one big season chopped liver. He earned $1.15 million in ’13-14.

What this does is give Sather approximately $8.8 million to re-sign Brassard, Chris Kreider and John Moore. With Brassard reportedly seeking in excess of $5 million and Kreider and Moore due raises, the Rangers should just have enough to fit them in. The more dicey scenario is if Brassard goes to arbitration and only gets a year he, Zuccarello and Marc Staal would all be UFA’s next summer. Along with Derek Stepan entering the final year of a bridge deal that will pay him $3.85 million in ’14-15, it promises to be another challenging year for Sather.

The organization is faced with some tough decisions. It makes sense for them to try locking up Stepan before next summer. At least he’ll still be a Group II. Of course, Staal will be top priority. Either they extend him during the season or move him. There’s no in between. Combined with Zuccarello and Brassard, who could put themselves in position for big paydays, that’s a lot of green.

In the meantime, let’s see if Slats can settle with Kreider. I wouldn’t count on that scenario playing out with Brassard. Moore doesn’t have arbitration rights, which means Sather will squeeze him. September can’t come soon enough.

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