With just days left before the deadline to sign top pick Pavel Zacha and have him eligible to play in the NHL this season, the two sides finally struck an agreement earlier today on an entry-level contract that will see Zacha get the max rookie base salary, though apparently GM Ray Shero held the line over bonuses as Zacha reportedly received some (not all) group A bonuses and none from group B. Also the Devils will reportedly not have to pay a fee to Zacha’s Czech team who he was under contract with – although earlier speculation had them owing $100k for missing a July deadline, it turned out to be a non-issue. I won’t say Shero’s summer work is done but this was certainly the last item on the ‘have to’ do list. Even if I’m not sure I want Zacha playing in the NHL this season, clearly management wanted to give Zacha a chance to earn a spot and at least give the home fans something to look forward to in a rebuilding season. And it’s nice to have the option if he’s truly ready.
Also coming down the pike just now, the Devils have agreed to play in a mini-round robin tournament of prospects games at Buffalo in early September. Our games will be on the 12th and 13th against prospects from the Sabres and Bruins organizations, respectively. Perhaps #2 overall Jack Eichel and #6 overall Zacha will face off in the Sabres-Devils game? Among all the changes this offseason this is perhaps one of the most refreshing ones. I was always envious of other teams having prospect camps and never saw the point of us not being involved in one, I guess former GM Lou Lamoriello didn’t want the kids getting too much publicity but to me I see it as a further opportunity to get them in game action, and see how they measure up against other organization’s kids before the preseason where they’re playing against NHL players.