On Sunday morning, the dust finally settled outside of Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey. New Jersey Devils General Manager Lou Lamoriello promised the Devils Army that he would be as active as any other GM in the league when free agent frenzy began this past Friday; he wasn’t lying.
The weekend did not start with a positive look for free agency signings. For the second consecutive year, the Devils lost their top unrestricted free agent to a competitive hometown team. David Clarkson announced that he agreed to terms on a 7-year contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs. Being a native of Toronto, Clarkson decided it was time for a change of scenery, and wanted to continue his career in his hometown. The Devils will surely miss Clarksons 6’1 frame, along with the 45 goals he has scored the previous two seasons. This is not the first time the Devils have lost their top free agent. Just last season, team captain Zach Parise left New Jersey to play for his hometown team, Minnesota Wild.
Lamoriello wasted no time searching and finding Clarksons replacement, and he didn’t have to look very far. Just across the Hudson River stood Ryane Clowe, a 6’2 power forward, who plays the exact same style of hockey as Clarkson. Clowe, coming off a slow year, held back by multiple concussions and settling in to the big New York market, is ready to start fresh in New Jersey. The Devils are excited that they were able to sign Clowe to a 5-year contract worth $4.85 million a year.
Lamoriello also wanted to add some scoring punch to his inconsistent offense, signing 33-year-old Michael Ryder to a two-year contract. Ryder, coming off of a lockout shortened 35-point season, playing for original 6 rivals Montreal Canadiens and the Boston Bruins, is ready to start fresh in Newark. The Newfoundland native is sure to bring a strong offensive scoring touch, as well as some of his power play expertise.
Lamoriello and the front office are not done making moves just yet. The Devils are $7 million under the salary cap limit, and will continue to look to improve through their restricted free agents and free agency.
Talks are set to begin with centers Adam Henrique and Jacob Josefson on contract extensions later this week.