What had been an uneventful month suddenly turned around for the Devils, who over the past two days got top pick Adam Larsson signed while dealing away Pierre-Luc Letourneau Leblond to the Flames for a fifth rounder and then bringing back popular enforcer Cam Janssen. For Lou Lamoriello, he was able to get his top pick to agree to a rookie contract without bonuses as Hasan referenced in the post below. By agreeing to forego those clauses, it allows Lou more wiggle room for Zach Parise, who still might go to arbitration if they can't work something out long-term.
With the fourth overall pick signed, sealed and delivered, the Devil blueline is beginning to take shape with holdovers Andy Greene, Anton Volchenkov and Henrik Tallinder all back along with impressive rookie Mark Fayne, who was instrumental in the club's frantic run that fell short. Colin White is entering his final year and could be deemed expendable considering his price tag ($3 million). If he does stay put, the Devils suddenly have some decisions with Matt Taormina expected to re-sign and Mark Fraser headed to arbitration. Anssi Salmela likely won't return and Bryce Salvador is still suffering from concussion symptoms he suffered during a preseason game last year, which could mean LTIR again.
While the back end looks pretty set, Lamoriello also addressed the lack of an enforcer after dealing away vanished Leblond to Calgary for a fifth round pick. By bringing back Janssen, who took to the role well and is a good team guy, teammates should be pleased. He took a two-way deal on the cheap ($525,000), proving how much he wanted to return. The ex-Blue is a nice addition if he's on the roster. In a tough division that features heavies Steve MacIntyre, Mike Rupp, Jody Shelley and likely Trevor Gillies who the Islanders still should re-sign along with bulldog Michael Haley, team toughness is a necessity.
Lou wasn't done yesterday inking ex-Thrasher Eric Boulton to a multi-year deal worth $1.6 million. The soon to be 35-year old veteran is best known for his first ever hat trick, victimizing former teammate Ilya Kovalchuk and the Devs in a 7-1 Thrashing that was rock bottom. While that shouldn't be expected daily, Boulton has proven capable of contributing when he's not mixing it up. In '08-09, the former Sabre and original Rangers' ninth rounder in '94 posted a career high 13 points (3-10-13) and 176 penalty minutes (2nd most- 178 PIM w/Buffalo '02-03) in 76 games. Following four years in Western New York, his role expanded with Atlanta where he spent the past half dozen injecting energy on the ice. He now picks his spots while trying to contribute in other facets. His 10 points (6-4-10) this past season were the second time in three years he hit double digits.
Boulton's penalty minutes have dipped from 176 to 112 to 87, tying for the second lowest of his career. He still got into 69 contests and was signed by Lamoriello at a decent price. Figure the experienced vet to team up with either David Steckel or Rod Pelley on a grind line with perhaps Janssen. Something Kool Aid drinkers should remember dating back to the days of Mike Peluso, Bobby Holik and Randy McKay en route to a first Cup. On paper, the Devils became a lot tougher. The only question is will Janssen make a deal with Steckel for his old number 25 or does the ex-Blue stay with new No.55 he has on his Twitter account? Fun stuff to ponder during the dog days.