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.