Tuesday, December 14, 2010
Lou sending mixed signals about direction of the Devils
So let's see, yesterday Devils GM Lou Lamoriello calls a quasi-press conference to declare that there will be no changes and the team we have is the team that we'll move forward with...and today he waives Brian Rolston? That's a faster misdirection than when he said Jacques Lemaire would return as Devils coach in '10 and then Lemaire 'resigned' three days later.
For his part, Lou claims that the decision was cap-related though why we need to do this now is a bit of a mystery unless Bryce Salvador's a lot closer to returning than we've been led to believe. And the only way waiving Rolston actually gives us cap relief - barring a trade which obviously isn't happening - is either if someone claims him straight up (not likely) or we assign him to Albany, then put him on re-entry waivers so that the cap hit gets divided between us and whoever claims him, which is probably the only realistic scenario to get any cap space this year out of Rolston.
Of course Rolston's two goals and two assists in fifteen games this season doesn't exactly scream that he needs to be here and perhaps giving young skaters like Mattais Tedenby and the rehabbing Jacob Josefson more icetime going forward is part of the reason why Rolston's become expendable in the GM's mind. Certainly there are on-ice reasons as well as cap considerations towards dumping Rolston. Plus there obviously needs to be a change in the culture of the locker room though if you believe Lou, Rolston wasn't a negative in that aspect.
“There is no better person in the room, no one with a more positive attitude,” Lamoriello said. “That’s what makes decisions like this so difficult. But I have to make some decisions. I can’t justify the payroll where we’re at with the results we’ve had and this is one of the decisions.”
So what are the financial considerations that merit releasing Rolston this afternoon, as opposed to say earlier in the season when we were playing with fifteen players or later on when we actually are closer to getting our higher-priced players back from injury (Salvador and Zach Parise)? While it's true Anssi Salmela will be playing his first game of the season Wednesday, adding his $625k salary to the roster is hardly a backbreaker. Perhaps Josefson and defenseman Mark Fraser are also close to returning, though the three of them combined only equal two million in cap space, and we still have six million plus on IR. Since we were about three million over the cap before the season I'd think there would still be enough room to bring all three back and maintain a full roster, especially since you're replacing league minimum guys like Stephen Gionta and Olivier Magnan.
There are only two scenarios I can think of where the Devils need cap space in the next few weeks - one I've already stated, that Salvador is in fact closer to returning than any of us know (which would definitely amp up the timetable) and the other one being that Lou wants to start negotiations with Parise on an extension and needs to clear a little more cap space next year to kick that off so the winger can be inked before this offseason where potential offer sheets and a bad season for the team might impact Zach's future plans.
For his part, Rolston admitted that going on waivers didn't come as a total surprise and publicly said that if he was sent down to Albany he would report (not a big shock considering the $7 million or so left on his deal, he wouldn't get more than $2 million perhaps if he refused to report and went on the open market). And Lou finally said something that was obvious to a lot of us if not this offseason, at worst a month ago:
“I thought we would come out of it,” Lamoriello said. “I thought we were coming out of it, but then we went back. Maybe my patience was a little too patient.”
Yet in almost the same breath Lou said that if Rolston wasn't claimed by noon tomorrow he would be in the lineup for tomorrow night's game against the Coyotes. Perhaps it's a bluff...but with Rip Van Lou's lack of real activity so far I'll believe Rolston's off the team when I see it.