Fire&Ice- The Devils have signed forward Jiri Tlusty to a one-year, one-way contract for $800,000. They also have invited forward Tyler Kennedy to camp on a professional tryout agreement.
The Devils' veterans are scheduled to report for their training camp physicals Thursday morning and will have their first official practices of training camp Friday.
As I reported here Monday, the Devils were among five NHL teams that were talking to Tlusty, an unrestricted free agent, about a possible tryout, but the 27-year-old Slany, Czech native pushed for a contract. He also had two contract offers to play in the KHL, his agent Rick Curran said earlier this week.
Tlusty still took a big pay cut from his $2.95 million salary last season. He split 2014-15 between Carolina and Winnipeg, totaling 14 goals and 17 assists in 72 games. He failed to register a point in four playoff games with the Jets.
I got to say, I love this move. Although, in the interest of full disclosure you could tell me the Devils signed anyone under the age of 30, attached the words "fast" and "attacking" in the press release, and I would jump for joy like they were Gretzky reincarnated. That's the beauty of the unknown. I can be as optimistic about this season as I so choose without looking completely blind to the situation. Especially this offseason, where literally not a damn person, fan or employee, knows what to expect from the New Jersey Devils.
The bottom line, however, is that Tlusty is talented offensively. He is creative. He has had a fair amount of success on the NHL level. Sure, a -18 plus/minus is a bit disconcerting, but hey, that's why we paid Cory Schneider so handsomely and signed about 25 defenseman. Sure, he got passed over by the rest of the league, but fuck 'em, their loss. The Devils can't be held responsible for the rest of the league not doing their due diligence in vetting a player that spent the majority of his career rotting in Toronto and Carolina. If anything he should be commended for surviving those two situations without putting a bullet directly in his brain. Based purely off happiness alone, I think Tlusty can double his career best in goals and assists this year, and I say that without an ounce of sarcasm.
Even if he doesn't, $800,000 for a player that was being paid $3 million last year and can contribute 15-20 goals is absolute highway robbery for a team as offensively deprived as the Devils. This is exactly what the youth movement is about. Stop handing out long term deals to 33 year olds that have maxed out on talent, and start taking chances on potential. I don't know if the Devils will be better or worse with Jiri Tlusty, but that's only because I didn't know what the were before Jiri Tlusty. At the very he makes this team more interesting and that's all you can really hope considering how much change they have endured since the end of last season.
Can't tell me this guy didn't just need a little change of scenery. I can almost see the resentment in his eyes...
Obligatory Hatty Highlight: