The Devils finally made a move today, waiving veteran forward Brian Rolston. The 37 year-old Rolston who returned to New Jersey three years ago, has two years, $5.062 million remaining on his contract. In 15 games this season which was hampered by a sports hernia, the '95 Cup winner has two goals and two assists for four points.
Regardless if he clears waivers or retires, Rolston's salary will count against the Devils cap because he's over 35. TSN's Bob McKenzie who broke the story on Twitter, also notes that he can be put on re-entry waivers which might give a better chance of someone claiming him. They'd be on the hook for half the salary/cap hit.
For Rolston, this could be the end of the line for a gritty Team USA star who played in two Olympics ('02, '06) including the memorable silver at Salt Lake, falling to familiar face Martin Brodeur and Team Canada. In his second stint with the Devils, Rolston totaled 37 goals and 36 helpers for 73 points over 159 games. That included 16 power play goals and six game-winners. Unfortunately, he was a disappointment after huge success with Minnesota. But as so happens with many aging vets, their play levels off, which is why the deal never made any sense to begin with.
In what's become a trying season with New Jersey sitting 29th with just eight wins and 18 points in 29 games trailing eighth by 18, the finger has to be pointed at President/GM Lou Lamoriello, who for all his success erred in handing out too many contracts like Rolston's with many including no-movement clauses. Something which has been a theme in Hasan's posts. Henrik Tallinder has been an epic fail thus far, posting a minus-16 rating. But he's far from alone with megastar Ilya Kovalchuk stuck on five goals and 14 points with a minus-18. Leading scorer Patrik Elias has only lit the lamp six times and top center Travis Zajac (3-10-13) hasn't been the same since Zach Parise went down.
There haven't been many bright spots. Swedish rookie Mattias Tedenby has shown flashes but has cooled off. Anton Volchenkov has been steady since returning from a broken nose. Jason Arnott leads the club with nine goals but is hardly the same player who scored the most memorable goal in franchise history 10 years ago. Dainius Zubrus (4-8-12) tries but the harsh reality is that his salary ($3.4 M) is hardly a bargain. Captain Jamie Langenbrunner's struggles are well documented. What can Lamoriello do? Surely, he couldn't have predicted Andy Greene stuck on a club worst minus-19 or Kovalchuk firing blanks.
What does it mean for Parise, who turns restricted this summer a year away from potentially leaving the only place he's known? It remains to be seen if such a poor season will impact what Zach Attack does. He's their most important player. The Devils can't afford to lose him.
Waiving Rolston starts the process for a prideful GM who never gives up. Most definitely, the Devils are better off getting younger moving forward. The playoffs seem like a pipe dream. Uncommon around these parts since '95-96. For now, all the Devs can do is continue to play hard under first-year coach John MacLean. Their next chance to snap a five-game skid is tomorrow at home versus the Coyotes. The Preds visit Friday and then New Jersey goes to Atlanta to face one of those teams they're chasing. It's like chasing a dream.