Lou Lamoriello was a busy GM on the first day of free agency making five signings to address the Devils need for scoring and a backup goaltender as well as retaining forward depth. During all of this he only lost one player to another team. Below is a list of the days' transactions that affect the Devils.
Departures: D Mark Fayne (4yrs/$14M)
Addressing the Offense
LW Mike Cammalleri is the first notable move Lou made today to address the Devils struggling offense. Alex has this post on the signing where he dives into the statistics extensively. 5 years and $25M is a lot to commit to the 32 year old winger who has had injury issues in the past. Thus is the inefficient price you have to pay to fill holes in free agency. I'm not too concerned about the deal in the sense that the salary cap stands to go up every year and they can always buy him out if things get ugly by years 4 or 5. With that said I understand the risk Lou took on the winger who has been around the 90th percentile in goals per game for much of his career.
RW Martin Havlat is another offensively minded signing that Lou made. The often injured Czech comes to New Jersey on a low risk 1 year deal worth $1.5M. Alex had a post covering the signing this afternoon and John discussed Havlat yesterday. There has never been any doubt about his skill, it's always been about his health. I like the signing since its a short, cheap deal that could yield a decent reward for the Devils who need all the help they can get offensively. As you can see with his Quant Hockey page or Extra Skater page, he is still a decent player when put in the right situation. Given the Devils strong possession numbers, I'd expect him to be put in a position to succeed with favorable zone starts against weaker competition.
Backup Goaltender Situation
With Martin Brodeur most likely moving on the Devils needed to sign a backup goaltender or promote Kinkaid to that spot. In the end, Lou essentially did both by inking ex-Devil Scott Clemmensen to a 1 year, 2 way deal to compete with Kinkaid in training camp for the spot. Looking at his stats on Hockey-Reference, Clemmensen is coming off two tough years where he played no more than 19 games in a season and posted a sub .900 SV%. The soon to be 37 year old is two years removed from posting a solid .913 SV% in 30 games for the Panthers where he found some success after leaving New Jersey in 2009. What is encouraging is that he posted a .922 5v5 SV% last year according to Extra Skater which suggests that Florida's league worst Penalty Kill hurt him - an issue he won't have to worry about in NJ. Alex had more on Clemmensen in his post this afternoon.
Keith Kinkaid posted a career high .912 SV% in the AHL last year but by no means should be given the starting job which is why I am glad Clemmensen has been brought in to challenge him. Kinkaid's breakout season still left him just around league average for AHL goaltenders with a Goals Saved Above Average of 1.74 and Goals Allowed Percentage Minus of 98. I'm still not convinced he is ready to be a backup NHL goaltender.
It's been no secret that Lou and DeBoer think highly of the CBGB line and wanted to retain the members. Today Lou re-signed two polarizing players, Steve Bernier for a year and Stephen Gionta for two years. According to Cap Geek the Devils now have 13 forwards under contract for next year, not including Jacob Josefson who has been tended a qualifying offer and Ryan Carter who is still out on the free agent market. It wouldn't shock me to see Lou make a trade or two to create some room. Alex had this in depth post a few days ago on the individual members of the CBGB line and how they perform with and without each other.
Glancing at Mark Fayne's Extra Skater page it is clear his loss will be felt. He often logged a lot of minutes at even strength and was a standout in possession while going against tough competition with tough zone starts. While the contract he received was very fair in my opinion and Oilers fans should be happy with him for the next few years, the Devils needed to clear space so that Adam Larsson, Jon Merrill, and Eric Gelinas can get consistent playing time in New Jersey next year. By not re-signing Fayne, the Devils not only cleared room for the young defensemen to come through, but also saved cap space to put more money into addressing the offensive woes. I wish Fayne all the best in Edmonton. He was one of my favorite players but sometimes it's necessary to part ways.
Obviously July 1 is a crazy day and a lot to take in. What are your opinions on the Devils signings? How do you feel about Mark Fayne moving on? Are you satisfied with the players the Devils re-signed today? What are your thoughts on the backup goalie situation? Do you think Lou is going to make any trades now that he has signed more forwards? What do you think of moves around the league? Let me know in the comments below. Thank you for reading.