The Devils Have Bought Out Mike Cammalleri And Devante Smith-Pelly Giving Them The Most Cap Space In The NHL
My instinctual reaction to this news was probably the same as that of every single fan that watched either of them play (when could actually get on the ice) last season. Simply put, I can't - in good conscience - hide the fact that I fist pumped when I saw that two players who largely underperformed were bought out in an effort to give the Devils' more financial freedom than they know what to do with (and I mean that last part literally). It's been made very clear that this team is being built on youth, speed, and promise, and - unfortunately - neither Michael Cammalleri or Devante Smith-Pelly possess anything more than a shred of those qualities.
Now, that doesn't mean I don't feel bad for them.
Michael Cammalleri was a pretty accomplished player when he voluntarily decided to board a sinking ship, and he continued to be just that through the first few Titanic-esque years of a contract that was all-but-bound to become an anchor. His struggles through injuries - while trying to crawl out of a scoring slump that seemed to defy the odds of puck luck - were cringeworthy, but it shouldn't be forgotten that it wasn't too long ago when he was one of the few people worth watching. Hopefully he latches on somewhere and contributes, because - despite not currently being right for this team - I can't imagine his tank is as empty as it appeared to be last season.
Devante Smith-Pelly might not have all that many great memories in a Devils' jersey, but who can forget his two to three week stretch of the most meaninglessly productive hockey in NHL history? If nothing else, the dude worked his ass off and made Devils' fans temporarily forget that their favorite team wasted a first round pick on Stefan Matteau, and the importance of the can't possibly be overstated.
Anyway, now that we have gotten the oh-so-tearful goodbyes out of the way, is anyone ready for free agency?! I don't know what Ray Shero has up his sleeve, but securing the league's biggest wad in in his back pocket leads me to believe that it's more than just an itch to get rid of all Lou Lamoriello's wrongdoings. I've done enough discussing of the potentially prodigal son of a bitch that's wading in neutral waters trying to choose which continent he wants to play on, but - even besides that inevitable disappointment - the Devils look to have a busy next few weeks on their hands.
As polarizing as the idea of giving a laughably large contract to a defensemen who is a defensive liability is, I can no longer see a world where the Devils don't back up the 'Brinks' truck up to Kevin Shattenkirk's doorstep. I don't expect people to love the decision to give a long term deal to a guy that doesn't perfectly fit a window that's not even cracked yet, but you'd have to be one sadistic psychopath not to like it more than watching Dalton Prout or Ben Lovejoy play meaningful minutes. If the expansion draft proved anything it's that you better be ready to give up both organizational kidneys if you want to enter the trade market for a top-4 blue liner, and Kevin Shattenkirk - on his worst day - is a second pairing guy that can breath life into a deadbeat defense. If there's a team that can afford to throw caution (in the form of wasted years and committed money) to the wind then it's the one that is a LTIR visit away from having 32 million dollars at their disposal.
The rebuilding process inherently isn't a quick fix, but it damn well better come faster than the end of Taylor Hall's contract or the construction team could easily become even more overwhelmed by the workload. That's why the addition of Kevin Shattenkirk makes sense. That's why I wouldn't be surprised to be the name Alex Galchenyuk pop back up in trade talks. That's why there's not too much that I would consider out of the realm of July's possibilities.
I don't expect Ray Shero to be overanxious, but I think his days of being extremely patient may be of the past. New Jersey isn't going to contend for anything other than the draft lottery next year, but - after trimming this roster's fat - I have a hard time believing they aren't going to try to bulk it back up for the near future.