Devils – 2003 Offseason

This is my first attempt at an article and since there’s no one on here besides Manta Ray that writes about the Devils, I thought I’d give it a shot. Besides, it’s slow during the offseason, maybe this will get posted over the latest “Leafs Improvement” article. Now on with the show…

So while all the other GMs in the NHL have their problems with high priced players’ salaries and the looming CBA coming up after this season, Lou Lamorello can sit back and laugh. He’s in a rare situation where he does not really have any players with astronomical salaries and his team is just coming off another successful Stanley Cup run. Nothing has been said about the Devils this off season mainly because they haven’t made any big signings or trades happen, but they have been active.

On draft day, Lou rid the Devils of their only “problem” – 22-year-old agitator Mike Danton. Danton played 17 games with the Devils this year before being banished by Lamorello to the River Rats’ bench. He promised the young forward he would never play another game in a Devils’ uniform. So St. Louis picked him up along with a third round pick at the draft in exchange for their third round pick in next year’s draft.

The next bit of news to come out of Jersey was Daneyko’s retirement. He was a heart and soul player and will be missed on the Devils’ blueline. However, the news of his retirement has freed up some money and with that, Lamorello went out and signed free agent defensemen Erik Rasmussen and Sean Brown.

As of right now the only UFA from the Devils’ roster last season that they seem interested in is Joe Nieuwendyk. Joe N. made $5 mil last year and I’m sure Lamorello is trying to talk him down. If he can’t, Nieuwendyk will be playing on another team next season. Tverdovsky and Smehlik don’t seem to be invited back to the swamp and they already lost McKenzie to Nashville.

Last season’s salary (from USAToday.com)

$56,572,446

minus the salaries of players lost in offseason

$47,697,446

That last number assumes if Nieuwendyk was to retain his $5mil/season salary. With Rasmussen and Brown added, the team salary is still shy of $50mil. If the CBA is still a concern even with that salary, contracts for Niedermayer, Brylin, Stevenson, Gomez, Berglund, Schwab, and Guolla expire after the upcoming season and new ones will be negotiated then.

Projected roster for 2003-2004

Friesen Nieuwendyk Langenbrunner

Elias Gomez Brylin

Pandolfo Madden Gionta

Stevenson Rheume Marshall

Stevens Rafalski

White Niedermayer

Brown Rasmussen

Brodeur

Schwab

In case of injuries, they can still call up Rupp, Berglund, Guolla, Bicek, and Giroux who all played games this year with the big team. The Devils look to be in good shape to compete next year for another Stanley Cup and will be fine going into the darkness of the CBA.

Let the bashing begin…