The New Jersey Devils have come to an agreement with restricted free agent defenseman Mark Fayne on a two-year deal worth $2.6 million. The two parties settled on Friday night, avoiding salary arbitration, which was scheduled for August 2 in Toronto.
The 25-year old defenseman earned $555,000 this past season. He will make $1.2 million this upcoming season and $1.4 million in 2013-2014. Fayne recorded three assists in the team’s 24 postseason games while tallying four goals and 13 assists in all 82 of the squad’s regular season contests.
The American-born blueliner had surgery in late June to repair a torn ligament in his left wrist. He is expected to be ready for Opening Night in October.
The team now has eight defenseman under contract for next year. In addition to Fayne, Bryce Salvador, Anton Volchenkov, Marek Zidlicky, Henrik Tallinder, Andy Greene, Adam Larsson and Peter Harrold are all on the payroll for next season.
With this, you would have to assume General Manager Lou Lamoriello will be dealing one of them. Let’s run through the eight players and decide who will be staying and who could be on their way out.
Fayne is staying. No way Lou ships out a young, cheap and rising talent. The same goes for Larsson. Last year’s fourth-overall pick, he is going to be in New Jersey for a long time. Salvador is staying in NJ too. Having recently signed a three-year pact, it is guaranteed that these three guys will be back in Jersey. Harrold is a guy that is making the bare minimum at $525,000. He could be a swingman type skater for head coach Pete DeBoer, playing some forward on the bottom two lines or on the third pairing as a defenseman. His flexibility is extremely valuable for his price tag.
Then there’s Zidlicky. You have to think he will be a Devil come October too. Given a full season in DeBoer’s system, he may be even more potent than he was during the stretch run. He is making $4 million dollars season, which may be reason to flip him to another team, but expect him to see him in red, white and black this year. Greene is making $3 million this year. I wouldn’t be shocked if he was dealt because he doesn’t have any standout abilities in the defensive end and doesn’t make a big impact in the offensive end, but he’s a high-character guy that Lou has taken a liking to.
That leaves two guys who are the most likely to pack their bags; Volchenkov and Tallinder. From a personal standpoint, Tallinder should be the one to exit. While they both looked really bad in their first seasons with NJ in 2010-2011, Volchenkov played every bit the role of a top pairing defenseman the Devils had hoped for this past season. Heck, he even made a little bit of noise offensively.
Tallinder has played 121 regular season games for the Devils. Not once can I ever recall myself saying, “What a game by Tallinder!” or, “What a play by Henrik!” Volchenkov makes nearly a million more at an AAV of $4.25 million, while Tallinder is at an AAV of $3.375 million. Volchenkov can play a nasty, mean physical game. Tallinder can’t really muscle anyone around and is not a very adept skater on offense.
With the signing of Fayne, it appears the defense is all set to go. Perhaps a trade of Tallinder can bring in another depth piece at forward to help replace the losses of Zach Parise and Alexei Ponikarovsky.