The Devils continued to bring back key pieces that helped them reach the Stanley Cup Final. While Lou Lamoriello and Kool Aid supporters remain on pins and needles with captain Zach Parise, they were able to retain defenseman Bryce Salvador, who re-upped for three years, $9.5 million.
The 36-year old Salvador not only returned from a career threatening concussion which cost him all of '10-11, but flourished under first-year coach Pete DeBoer playing in all 82. He finished with nine assists and a plus-18 rating along with 106 hits. However, it was his postseason that opened eyes with the veteran blueliner from Manitoba scoring four goals after having none during the regular season. They were all big including a go-ahead tally past Henrik Lundqvist that swung the momentum during Game Four of the Eastern Conference Final. He also tallied 10 assists to finish with 14 points along with a plus-nine rating during the Devils' run.
Indeed, the defensive oriented Salvador was arguably his team's most consistent playoff performer. No small feat on a team that featured Parise, Ilya Kovalchuk, Martin Brodeur, Travis Zajac, Patrik Elias and rookie hero Adam Henrique.That it came at the age of 36 with so much uncertainty speaks volumes about his character. Even more, he showed loyalty by giving Lamoriello every opportunity to re-sign him despite Devil overtures to Parise. There were at least four suitors for Salvador's services. He chose to stay with the team who stuck with him.
With Salvador back, the Devil blueline remains intact with Mark Fayne, Andy Greene, Peter Harrold, Adam Larsson, Henrik Tallinder, Anton Volchenkov and Marek Zidlicky. On paper, the Devils top six would include Greene, Salvador, Zidlicky, Fayne, Volchenkov and probably Larsson. Tallinder could be expendable with two years left at $3.5 million. Harrold will serve as an extra. It probably will surprise Hasan that the Devils kept Salvador considering the log jam. You can never have enough D.
Even with financial concerns, Lamoriello has done an outstanding job locking up his fourth line while committing two years to keep the franchise Brodeur. He also renewed popular enforcer Cam Janssen and wisely bought out Eric Boulton, who stayed in the division with the Islanders. Fayne is a Group II but too important to lose. Figure them to reach agreement next month. Matt Taormina is up in the air.
Now, the Devils and everyone else waits on Parise, who returned home to Minnesota to discuss things with his family. It's anyone's guess when he'll make up his mind.