Lamoriello has some decisions to make.
The last time New Jersey Devils GM Lou Lamoriello had to get into off season mode this early was 1996. But thanks to his teams failure to qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs he’s forced to put his off season contingency plan into action immediately.
Lamoriello’s number one priority has to be resigning restricted-free agent Zach Parise to a long term deal. Among several other issues the Hall of Fame GM must address, the contract situation of Parise must be handled immediately. The Olympic Silver medalist missed most of the season with a knee injury and as a result the Devils offense sputtered. The Devils lack of offensive consistency in his absence could of actually pushed his value up.
Parise has expressed interest in remaining with the club long term but New Jersey may not have the cap space to pull it off. As of today there have been no discussion between Parise, his agents or the Devils.
Lou must also avoid another free agent disaster ala the Kovalchuk saga with Parise. The whole ordeal was embarrassing to Lamoriello and the entire Devils organization and rest assured the Parise contract will not be handled in the same manner.
There was more then one whisper speculating that Kovalchuks’ contract situation directly impacted the teams performance on the ice culminating in their disastrous first half.
Lamoriello must also face an ugly truth. Future Hall of Fame netminder Martin Brodeur will be 39 next season. Brodeur himself has not committed to playing beyond his current contract which expires after the 2012-13 season.
Marty’s back-up, Johan Hedberg is playing out the final days of his one year deal with New Jersey. Lamoriello must decide if any of the goalies in the organization are ready to be groomed to replace an almost irreplaceable piece of the franchise. Otherwise, he may have to look elsewhere to acquire a goaltender. It’s possible he may just decide to bring back Hedberg or another veteran on a short term deal until a suitable replacement is found.
Still yet another white elephant for the Devils is finding a good puck moving defenseman, preferably at a bargain price. Andy Greene definitely put in yeoman’s work this season but he too is a free agent and will require a substantial raise. Plus Greene has not adequately filled the void left by the departure of current Pittsburgh Penguin Paul Martin. Lou will have several options to choose from as this years crop of free agent defenseman is plentiful but at what price?
The Devils are still handcuffed by the salary cap. They have close to 52 million dollars tied up in 17 players, not including Parise. Lamoriello has proven he is a magician when it comes to managing limited cap space, just ask Alexander Mogilny. But even the cleverest of prestidigitator would have some difficulty working with such tight parameters.
At least Lamoriello will have some extra time this summer to get it all sorted out.
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Devils’ Lamoriello Faces Summer of Uncertainty
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