Let the unloading of contracts begin for New Jersey Devils GM Lou Lamoriello.
While the NHL formally accepted Ilya Kovalchuk’s long-awaited 15-year, $100-million deal early Saturday morning, Lamoriello now has to lose some contracts.
The Devils must shed about $3.5-$4 million (all terms US) if they’re going to get under the NHL’s $59.4-million cap.
While the Devils would like to get out from underneath veteran winger Brian Rolston’s $5-million cap hit for the next two seasons, the 37-year-old can’t have his contract buried in the minors.
That means New Jersey defenceman Bryce Salvadore, 34, who makes $2.9 million, and winger Dainius Zubrus, 32, scheduled to make $3.2 million per season through 2012-13, are going to be targets.
If they can’t be dealt, they could be sent to the AHL.
A league source said Saturday the only way Lamoriello might be able to deal one — or both players — is if he’s willing to package up high draft picks that will make it palatable for other teams to take the contracts.
Sources say since Lamoriello is not happy with the idea of giving up picks, the Devils have been quietly dangling around 25-year-old centre Travis Zajac, who has a $3.9- million cap hit through 2012-13.
“He’s a good player,” said one NHL executive.
The Devils got their man by signing Kovalchuk, but it comes with a whole new set of headaches.
By the time training camp wraps up at the end of this month, there could be a few familiar faces missing.
Around the boards
The Dallas Stars have invited former Ottawa RW Jonathan Cheechoo to camp on a free- agent tryout. He suited up for 61 games with the Senators last year, but finished the year with the club’s AHL affiliate in Binghamton and was bought out at the end of the season. “We’re pleased that Jonathan has accepted our invitation to come to our training camp,” Dallas GM Joe Nieuwendyk said on the club’s website. “He has shown the ability to be an effective scorer in this league. He’s a competitor and we’re going to give him an opportunity.” It really is a hard fall for a guy who scored 56 goals and won the Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy in 2005-06 with San Jose ... Free-agent F Bill Guerin showed up in Philly last week and has been skating at the Flyers practice facility. It’s doubtful he’ll sign with the Flyers, though.
This 'n' that
Give San Jose Sharks GM Doug Wilson credit for signing Stanley Cup-winning G Antti Niemi to a one-year, $2-million deal last week. After signing Chicago D Niklas Hjalmarsson to a four-year, $14-million offer sheet earlier this summer, Wilson forced the Hawks to match and they likely paid Hjalmarsson about $1 million more per season than they wanted. That left Chicago without the cash to accept Niemi’s $2.75-million award in arbitration and Wilson was able to swoop in to sign him as a UFA ... Nice to see Habs playoff hero Jaroslav Halak make an appearance at the Fairview Centre in Pointe Claire Saturday to raise money for Ste. Justine’s Hospital in Montreal and say goodbye to his adoring fans. He signed items — including those legendary playoff STOP signs — and will report to St. Louis this week.
The last word
Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli has told C Marc Savard he won’t be dealt.