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Devils Qualify Nine; Is Hiring a Coach Next?

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Posted 28 June 2011 - 12:22 AM

Posted ImageLou Lamoriello is a man on a mission!

The New Jersey Devils were business as usual on Monday extending qualifying offers to 9 of the 11 potential restricted free agents on the roster. Not included on the list were winger Zach Parise and defensman Anssi Salmela.

The Devils did not need to qualify Parise because they already filed for team elected arbitration two weeks ago. But, not qualifying Salmela means he could become an unrestricted free agent on July 1 if the Devil fail to work out a deal with him..

Opinions vary on how good Salmela is and can be. I for one have always held him in high regard despite his tendency to be inconsistent in his own end and feel he could be a valuable member of the defense especially with his shot from the point. Salmela played in just 48 games this past season after recovering from off-season knee surgery to repair a torn ACL in his right knee. If they Devils had tendered a qualifying offer they would have to bump his salary by ten percent. Once a player is qualified they then have the right to take their respective team to arbitration. This appears to be the deciding factor behind the decision for GM Lou Lamoriello and the Devils not to tender an offer.

Lamoriello did not shut the door on re-signing the Finnish defenseman but it remains to be seen if Salmela fits into New Jersey’s long term future.

D Matt Corrente, D Mark Fraser, G Jeff Frazee, D Maxim Noreau, RW Nathan Perkovich, D Matt Taormina, LW Alexander Vasyunov, C Steve Zalewski, RW Vladimir Zharkov all received qualifying offers from the Devils.

It was confirmed today that Alexander Vasyunov did sign a one year deal with his former Russian team. Vasyunov’s agent Mark Gandler, said that his client signed a 1-year deal with Yaroslavl of the KHL. The Devils qualified him today in order to retain his rights should he decide to return to the NHL. Vasyunov was considered to be one of New Jersey’s top prospects at forward.

Free Agency Opens Friday….

Friday is July 1st, (besides trade deadline day) it can one of the most exciting or most painful days for a hockey fan depending on how your favorite team fairs. This year the Devils have D Andy Greene and G Johan Hedberg slated to hit the market as unrestricted free agents. Lamoriello has said on more than one occasion that his hope is to keep both of them. As of now there have been no serious talks between any of the parties and no deals are imminent. I suspect Lou will get them both signed and in camp for the start of the 2011-12 season.

I would be very surprised if New Jersey makes any significant signings once the free agent frenzy starts. Last year they went bananas signing D Henrik Tallinder, D Anton Volchenkov, G Johan Hedberg and of course F Ilya Kovalchuk. Even with the cap rising they have more pressing issues..*cough* Parise *cough*

Any deals will be minor. Expect a role player/character signing or two.

Coaching Front…

On Monday the Milwaukee Admirals named Kirk Muller their new head coach. Another potential head coaching candidate is gone, kaput, off the the market. Where does that leave the Devils in their coaching hunt? New Jersey has yet to appoint a new captain for their ship but they could be inching closer to a decision. The internet has been buzzing with rumors that Mike Eaves of Wisconsin may be on his way to Jersey. Eaves denies he’s even been interviewed and says that in fact he’s had no contact with any NHL team for that matter. Former Atlanta Thrasher bench boss Craig Ramsey has also been linked to the Devils job. Tom Gulliti confirmed that the Devils did indeed interview Michel Therrien last week for their vacant coaching position. As of right now he is the only confirmed candidate to be interviewed. Before the hiring of John Maclean prior to the start of last season, Therrien was rumored to be the front runner to replace then retiring Jacques Lemaire. Instead Maclean was given the job and the rest is history. Is Lou second guessing himself and going back to Therrien to fix the mistake he made with the Johnny Mac hiring?

Stay tuned as this story develops…

Just because the summer is heating up doesn’t mean all the good hockey news is on ice. The next couple of weeks should be a lot of fun.

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