Aging Devils and the Stalling CBA Talks

NEWARK, NJ - JUNE 09: The New Jersey Devils celebrate around Martin Brodeur #30 after defeating the Los Angeles Kings during Game Five of the 2012 NHL Stanley Cup Final at the Prudential Center on June 9, 2012 in Newark, New Jersey. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

The lockout is coming. Whether you are an optimist or a pessimist, a lockout is coming this weekend. CBA talks are stalled, players are going to head over seas and GM's will still get some money from the TV contracts they signed. Woo Hoo!

You've heard all of the above before, but not many people focus on the older players in the league and what this does to their playing career. Some older players may decide to retire if the lockout comes true, some may stay in shape, and some players may take time off and lose some of their speed/skill due to aging. The Devils have gotten significantly younger in recent years but there are still a few aging Devils who may have to rethink their future if the season is lost to a lockout.

The trend around the NHL in the last few years has been to field a younger, faster team. The Devils aren't the oldest team in the NHL, but they aren't the youngest. The Devils have 6 players (I'm assuming Petr Sykora will resign) who are older than 35. If we include players who are older than 30, the Devils have 10 players that fit that description.

I would consider most of these players to be central to the team, with the exception of Krystofer Barch. We all know enforcers are needed, but I wouldn't consider them central. The problem with these older players being central to the team is that if there is a whole season lost to the lockout, the Devils may have a problem replacing the core of their team.

So who are the old guys on the Devils? Their age group as of today is listed below:

35+

Age

Contract Expires

Patrik Elias

36

2012-13

Petr Sykora

35

-

Marek Zidlicky

35

2012-13

Bryce Salvador

36

2014-15

Martin Brodeur

40

2013-14

Johan Hedberg

39

2013-14

30+

Dainius Zubrus

34

2012-13

Krystofer Barch

32

2013-14

Anton Volchenkov

30

2015-16

Henrik Tallinder

33

2013-14

Most of these players have contracts that are expiring in the next two years. This begs the question of what will happen if the NHL locks out and the Devils find themselves with a lot of free agents after a trip to the Stanley Cup Finals?

This opens up several possibilities. Players could retire if they feel they are at that stage. My all-time favorite hockey player, Scott Stevens, retired during the lockout of the 2004-05 season. He did have concussion issues as well, but he was planning on playing in the 04-05 season. It would be a shame for that to happen to another Devils legend. The two legends that will most likely retire in the next 5 years are Patrik Elias and Martin Brodeur. However, I don't see any Devils that would retire immediately if a season didn't occur.

Another possibility is that a players contract may expire while there is no Collective Bargaining Agreement and it may be very hard/complicated to sign said player. If the CBA has any radical changes to free agency rules, the Devils may not get a window to negotiate a contract before a player becomes a free agent. Now, I'm not big into understanding the ins and outs of the CBA and what not, but who knows what might get changed in the new CBA.

A third option is that some of the older players might take some time off and rest their body. This could result in a player losing some skill, or in Dustin Byfuglien's case....well, see for yourself. Now, this is funny because it's not a player on the Devils, but what if that was Bryce Salvador... not so funny now.

The final option is that the player stays in shape and is ready for hockey, whenever it may return. This is the ideal situation, which includeds players playing in the AHL or some European league. Given the players that are aging for the Devil, are you concerned if there is a lockout? Do you think Bryce Salvador can gain 200 lbs and look as good as Byfuglien? Let me know below.

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