It's not an issue of no one wanting to play here. And Kovy is an outlier that very well may have been all of Vanderbeek's doing. Other than that, Lou's approach to free agency is to target certain players that fill needs, and not just going after the biggest fish that's out there for it's own sake.
Otherwise, to clarify what I was saying earlier, while no one knows what will happen in the next five years, it does look like we'll be very thin at forward and that there will be a need to overpay in free agency for the Clowes, Cammalleris and Ryders of the world. It's just that Greene's contract at that point isn't going to impact how good or bad the forwards will be by then. True, Merrill, Gelinas and Larsson might be getting huge pay days at that point. If that's the case, and you don't have the cap space to sign all three of them, it means you have three extremely good defensemen that are in the prime of their careers.
The Devils aren't in the conversation for the biggest player because for years they already had good players. They had Parise, Elias, Gomez, Gionta, etc. The goal was to surround those players with decent depth. Then they got Kovalchuk. Soon it's going to be Henrique, Zajac, an aging Cammalleri, maybe Boucher, and a lot of question marks. The Devils won't just be able to patch holes with mid-range free agents - they will need to be involved for the best players, because the best players aren't walking in otherwise.
Again, they're spending $45M on forwards and that's with Jagr being a giant bargain what with him being the best one and being paid less than Zajac. When Jagr goes, how much do you think they'll have to spend on the guy that replaces him? How about the person who replaces Elias? I'd say $13M per season is a good estimate for that. What Merrill, Gelinas, and Larsson turn into is sort of immaterial here - Larsson will be paid a lot of money on his next contract unless he really tanks this year, and Gelinas figures to be paid a lot since he'll score some points. If Merrill, Gelinas, and Larsson aren't any good then the team is screwed regardless.