PHILADELPHIA -- Bob Clarke will be keeping a close eye on the New Jersey Devils.
The Flyers GM told the Sun yesterday he can't believe nobody has followed his lead to make a Group II offer to any of the Devils restricted free agents.
With defencemen David Hale and Paul Martin and winger Brian Gionta still unsigned, Devils GM Lou Lamoriello has gotten himself into a mess. The Devils are over the cap, with $47 million committed, and should be vulnerable to an offer sheet. Clarke wonders why no team has taken a chance.
"I respect Lou Lamoriello a lot. He's won Stanley Cups and he's a good friend of mine, but I think everybody is going to be watching closely to see what happens here," said Clarke. "I certainly know that I will be. I'm sure that (Lamoriello) is probably going to figure out something, but what I wonder is: Why with the Devils in that situation, nobody has made a Group II offer to guys like Gionta or Martin? It's going to be really interesting for everybody in the league."
The belief is Lamoriello has deals in place with the free agents and just has to figure out a way to move some money by making Alexander Mogilny and Vladimir Malakhov long-term injury exceptions.
"That's what everybody has been saying, but nobody seems to have the answer to whether that's the case or not. I guess we're going to find out," said Clarke.
When Clarke signed Canucks centre Ryan Kesler to a one-year, $1.9-million offer sheet earlier this month, he broke the unwritten rule among GMs not to touch restricted free agents.
That moved forced Vancouver to more than triple the $600,000 salary Kesler pulled down last season.
Clarke said somebody had to be the first and he'd do it again.
"I felt like signing Kesler was the right deal for us and that means we were willing to pay more," said Clarke. "We wanted to get him signed and then we would have looked at a longer-term, three-year deal down the road. We had the money to do it, so we did it."