As I said on my twitter account, the expected happened. The New Jersey Devils signed LW Ryane Clowe on the first day of NHL free agency. The deal is five years, for 24.25 million dollars, with a cap hit of 4.85 million per year.
Clowe is coming off two concussions in the last two months, but according to Tom Gulitti of the Bergen Record Clowe has received a clean bill of health from doctors and the Devils knew that. Clowe will play for his 3rd team in the last 6 months, after being traded from San Jose to the New York Rangers at the deadline last season.
Last season Clowe played in 40 games putting up 3 goals and 16 assists, good enough for 19 points. Clowe career highs are 24 goals (2010-2011), 38 assists (2009-2010, 2010-2011) and 62 points (2010-2011).
The contract is a relatively big deal, especially for somebody with concussion problems. Clowe’s deal all but assures that the Devils will not bring back David Clarkson, who will get an upwards of six million dollars per year. GM Lou Lamoriello saw Clowe as a replacement for Clarkson, for less money. If Clowe gets back to his play it could be a great replacement for Clarkson, who will get over payed as well.
Clowe brings grit and size to the lineup, with probably more skill than Clarkson. The deal seems to be very steep in both term and money. One has to wonder if Lou panicked and signed Clowe because he knew he had to replace Clarkson. He did this a couple seasons ago when the Devils lost defenseman Paul Martin and quickly signed Henrik Tallinder. Lou himself admitted he panicked to get a replacement.
This signing means that the New Jersey Devils are not going to be hampered by financial problems for icing a solid team if they can lure players this free agency. This also says to me that the team is close to done with free agency, not worrying about over paying to get the players they want. I could see a role player being signed, but wouldn’t expect a Stephen Weiss type of player. I wouldn’t even expect a Damien Brunner signing from here on out.