Fire & Ice- The Devils placed forward Dainius Zubrus on unconditional waivers at noon today with the purpose of terminating his contract.
If Zubrus is not claimed at Thursday's noon deadline, the final year on his contract will be bought out.
The Devils have a 48-hour buyout window that began Tuesday after settling their final arbitration case Saturday by signing defenseman Adam Larsson to a six-year, $25 million contract.
Zubrus, 37, is due to make $3.1 million in 2015-16 in the final year of a three-year, $9.3 million contract he signed with the team two summers ago. The buyout will for two thirds the remaining total value ($2,0) spread out over twice the remaining years on the deal. So, the Devils will pay Zubrus $1,033,333 over each of the next two seasons.
Zubrus' full average salary of $3.1 million will count against the team's salary cap in 2015-16, however, because it was a contract signed at age 35 or older.
Zubrus is coming off a tough 2014-15 campaign in which he had just four goals and six assists in 74 games.
The move is somewhat surprising, though, because general manager Ray Shero said Saturday it was "not on our radar" to utilize this second buyout window.
Honestly, I don't know what it was about Dainus Zubrus that made him so endearing to Devils fans. When he was signed, seemingly to replace Scott Gomez, there was definitely too much expected of him in filling that role. Predictably he failed to fit into the top 6 as the consistent offensive threat that his contract stated he should be. However, there was always something about the way he played the game that made him easy to admire. The goal scoring and the playmaking may not have always been present, but the effort certainly was. I can probably count on two hands the number of board battles that Zubs has definitively lost over the course of the last eight seasons. He was the definition of a 'team guy'. A player that never spoke ill of the team or the coaching staff. A player who played whatever position you could possibly ask of him, and did so admirably almost every single time. In many ways, he was like the bigger, more physical version of Sergei Brylin. He just doesn't have the Stanley Cup rings to show for it. Whether he was experimenting with a new type of coffee, or playing DJ (debatable how well) to the rest of the locker room, he was a player that was well liked by his teammates and fans alike. Not a player that whose presence would right the ship when things were going poorly, but a player that played an imperative role when the team was successful. With the way the Devils possessed the puck under Peter Deboer's system, Zubrus was basically a perfect fit, and thus an important part of a team that clawed their way to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2012.
Alas, it was time to part ways. It was painful watching Zubrus try to keep up last year, and that's coming from someone that time and time again hoped he could. I would have been very surprised if this move didn't happen, so it's not surprising, but perhaps a bit upsetting. Just another shoe dropping as the Devils continue to cleanse the closet in an effort to transform this team into a contender. Zubrus probably won't be missed too much on the ice, as defensive positioning and toughness are easily forgotten, but what he provided to this franchise over the course of the last eight years definitely will be. Let's hear it one last time....