The word came out early today that the New Jersey Devils have re-signed Andy Greene. The news that he signed a four year deal came out over 6 hours ago from Tom Gulitti on Twitter. Only within the most recent hour did his cap hit come out, as Gulitti tweeted that the average annual value of the contract is $3 million. There are still details to be uncovered, but the basics are clear: $12 million over 4 years.
I highlight the time between these two bits of news because in between that time, a few other defensemen were signed today. Colorado snagged Jan Hejda on a four year deal with a $3.25 million cap hit. As part of Dale Tallon's Quest for the Cap Floor, Florida acquired Ed Jovanovski on a four year deal with a $4.125 million cap hit. Also, Washington signed Roman Hamrlik for two years with a $3.5 million cap hit. Dallas added $3.65 million to their cap with a one year deal for Sheldon Souray ($1.65 million) and a two year deal for Adam Pardy ($2 million). Defensemen were getting signed and getting paid. Even before July 1, Jonathan Ericsson re-signed with Detroit on a 3 year deal with a $3.25 million cap hit; Joni Pitkanen re-upped with Carolina on a four-year contract with a $4.5 million cap hit; and Steve Montador signed with Chicago on a 4 year deal with a $2.75 million cap hit. It's been busy for blueliners in the past few days, and it certainly hasn't been cheap.
With that all in mind, I offer my quick thoughts about the new contract the Devils offered and Greene signed after the jump.
A few months ago, I noted that statistically Andy Greene was among his impending UFA defenseman peers when it came to even strength performance except in minutes played, where Greene stood out among the group. Since his peers appear to have signed deals in a roughly $3 - $4 million range, it really shouldn't be seen as a surprise that Greene's cap hit is $3 million.
The big benefit of Greene returning is that the Devils know who he is, he can play big minutes, and he can provide some offense along with his experience. While I argued that the Devils could replace him from within back in May; I also pointed out how it would be difficult and reliant on younger defensemen to step up their games more quickly and effectively. Now, this is not a concern since Greene is back. There's no need to pressure the inexperienced to make a big leap because Greene can take a lot of minutes in the immediate future and chip a decent amount of points. It's also a positive that Greene is signed for the prime of his career. He'll be 32 when it's over, so there's no reason to think he'll decline over the length of this contract. Plus, for all we know, the length may have helped bring down the cost of retaining Greene - which is important given that the Devils don't have a lot of space to make all of their other contracts this summer.
I can see why Devils fans may not like this deal, however. I will agree that four years is a bit excessive, as it guarantees that the core of the blueline for the next three seasons is Tallinder, Volchenkov, and Greene. While Greene is a good two-way defensemen, he's not a great one and having him on the roster may hinder any hopes of the Devils acquiring one in the near future. So if you're not a big fan of Greene, then you're not happy with this length. If this deal was two or three years, I would think this re-signing would be better received. While it's a benefit that Greene's presence means the blueline won't be half-filled with youngsters, it could create a logjam if enough young defenders are ready or some of the depth defensemen are primed for a greater role. You can argue it creates a log jam now, since the Devils now have a ton of defensemen in their system. That could be alleviated through a trade or two, something Lou didn't rule out when explaining to Tom Gulitti that he won't delve deeply into unrestricted free agency any more than he already has.
By itself, $3 million may be a bit much for his services, since we're talking about a defender who's never put 100 shots on net or scored more than 6 goals or put up more than 37 points or dominate defenders. However, considering what other defensemen got on the market in this offseason, I can understand the cap hit. If Ericsson got $3.25 million, then Greene getting $3 million is acceptable. It's not a great or ideal cap hit or a great or ideal contract length, but I can appreciate the reasoning behind both.
What does this do for the rest of this summer? At the time of this writing, this knocks the Devils' cap space down to $9 million and change. Once Johan Hedberg's contract details come out, there will be some clarity as to how much cap space Lou will have to re-sign Zach Parise and offer contracts to the other qualified restricted free agents. It's clear that this was a significant signing and it adds more reason for the Devils to make some deals to clear up some space. I hear Winnipeg has a lot of space available.
What do you think of this contract for Andy Greene? I would include a poll but they've been acting kind of weird; so I'm going to leave this as a written question. Do you love this deal, like this deal, in the middle about the deal, dislike this deal, or do you hate this deal? How do you feel about Andy Greene in general? Please leave your answers in the comments; and thank you for reading.