Matt Taormina will not be checking NHL forwards just yet, he's going back to Albany for the time being. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Today, the New Jersey Devils decided to just buy time and place Bryce Salvador and Anssi Salmela on long term injured reserve to get underneath the salary cap. I've already said why I don't think it was smart, but what's done is done. Now the team is set for opening night with Alexander Urbom and Matt Taormina.
Then out of the blue, Tom Gulitti reports that the Devils have sent Taormina down to Albany and have called up center Adam Henrique. (Hat-tip: Kevin, who first noted this news in this comment) Yes, the very same Adam Henrique who didn't play a single preseason game and was among the first cuts in training camp. Henrique's listed cap hit at CapGeek is $845,833, but $287,500 of that is in bonuses - so he would fit for now. Jacob Josefson, Mattias Tedenby, or Vladimir Zharkov, on the other hand, would not. The Devils remain under the cap, but even more barely at a little over $30,000. My initial reaction: Really? Henrique, really?
Urbom fans can at least rest knowing he'll be starting on opening night. Gulitti calls it a "paper move." I have a few more thoughts - questions, really - after the jump.
While this move gives the Devils 12 forwards, which answers one of my concerns, I can't say I'm enthused about throwing Henrique into the NHL fire right away. Yes, preseason experience isn't much to write home about, but at least a player would go up against a few NHL players at some point and give some basis over whether they could be ready. Henrique doesn't have that. Then again, he would be on the fourth line and play limited minutes. Short of playing like Andrew Peters, it's unlikely he would be a total liability.
However, this only raises another question: Why didn't the Devils sign Adam Mair? He's still around the team and practicing, so he's definitely interested in being a Devil. He's not going to demand a lot of money since he was unsigned all summer and came to New Jersey on a try-out contract. He has played on the fourth line in Buffalo and in preseason for NJ. I can understand the Devils' desire to have more cap space first, but the Devils could have given him a NHL-minimum, one-year deal and then be set with NHL players up and down all 4 lines.
The only other reason I can think of why the Devils didn't sign Mair outside of not wanting to make an offer yet is the roster minimum They can't send Taormina down and remain 19 players until the next day, and then sign Mair. They have to be at 20, so someone needed to be called up. Therefore, Mair remains unsigned. I could be dead wrong on that, but it's the only reasoning I can come up with.
Now that I think about it, I wonder why the Devils didn't call up other Albany Devils who are on league minimum or close to league minimum two-way deals like Taormina. They could have called up Brad Mills, Chad Wiseman, or Tim Sestito for three examples. Those players wouldn't be out of place on a energy line for a few games either. Plus either one would have saved an additional $10,000 in cap space.
There remains one unanswered (as of now) question. Is it just to get another young prospect in to fill a roster spot, and he just fit the bill? Why would the Devils choose Henrique of all players to call up? Are they looking to showcase him in the NHL? Has he done well enough in Albany to warrant a look after camp? For now, all we can do is guess and speculate. Please leave me your guesses and speculation, as well as your response to this transaction in the comments. Thanks for reading and on a self-promotion note, please check out Blueshirt Banter Radio tonight - I'll be calling in at 8:30 PM to inform the rest of the division who the Devils are this season.
Though that they may change sooner than we may think.