he New Jersey Devils announced today that they have agreed to terms with Stephen Gionta on a 2 year contract worth $850,000 per season. This move was finalized shortly after his line mate, Steve Bernier, agreed to a 1 year deal with New Jersey (see my earlier post on that transaction).
This decision is in lock step with Lou Lamoriello and his prior statements about being very serious in returning the entire 4th line, or the “CBGB line” to the team next season. This activity could be driven out of loyalty because that 4th line was a big difference maker in the Devils march to the Stanley Cup Final in 2012.
Unfortunately these guys all have two more years of hockey which has ravaged their bodies since that incredible playoff run. The performance of each one of the three players in this group has been trending down.
However, Gionta provides the line with a physicality that the rest of the lines tend to lack from their forwards. He is also a contributor on special teams as part of the penalty killing unit, which played extremely well for long stretches last season. I would presume that Gionta would have a role in the penalty kill unit in this upcoming campaign.
This deal is also keeping with the theme of mostly risk – free contracts that the Devils have handed out today. This amount of money for a fourth line center is very reasonable, and Gionta will compete hard and hustle every night for this contract.
Now, we will wait and see what happens with the last member of the “CBGB line”, Ryan Carter, and if the Devils can come to terms with him on a new contract at some point in the next few days.
Please continue to check back here on Pucks & Pitchforks for continuing coverage of the free agency activity for the New Jersey Devils.
( Some background and salary information courtesy of Newark Star Ledger)