UPDATES: Parise Named Captain, Steckel Toronto-Bound, Sykora Makes Team, And More

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An announcement we’ve been waiting for since Jamie Langenbrunner’s trade last winter has finally been made, just a day before the start of the 2011-2012 season.  Despite the fact that next summer’s negotiations should be heated, to say the least, Zach Parise will sport the “C” this season for the Devils, as the ninth captain in the team’s history.  And as someone who, after buying his jersey just last year, did not include the “A” in anticipation of this eventually occuring, I can say I am very happy with this move.

Well, with a one-year contract, you ask, why would the Devils give the captaincy to Parise?  This is a decision that shows the organization’s commitment to their star left winger, and, in a sense, assures the fanbase of their intent to sign him long-term.  Most importantly, Parise is the ideal leader in New Jersey, for a franchise he is becoming the face of (just ask Marty).  He has shown great energy and hustle throughout his Devils’ career, and his work ethic is one that other players could take after.  In terms of being a leader on and off the ice, you have to believe Parise will be up to this task.

Yesterday, in order to clear some cap room, for the most part, the Devils traded David Steckel to the Maple Leafs for a 2012 fourth round pick.  The move essentially gave the team some extra roster space to go along with payroll flexibility, as the former Capital had two years at $1.1 million left on his contract.  While Steckel has said he was not too surprised, this was a move that caught me a little bit off guard.  It looked as though he was going to be very important at the start of the year, especially with Zajac out, on the Devils’ latter lines as well as on the penalty kill.  However, like I have said, Steckel was disappointing in his limited time in New Jersey last season, and thus, the team felt comfortable that others in the system could effectively replace him.

After days of speculation, Petr Sykora has been signed and will be on the roster come opening night.  Sykora signed a one-year, $650,000 contract, and was ecstatic at getting this opportunity.  It should be fun watching him this year, as hopefully his preseason success will translate well into the regular season.  It’s possible Sykora could play anywhere at this point, so it will be interesting to see what DeBoer will do come opening night.

Courtesy of Tom Gulitti of Fire and Ice, the Devils have released their 23-man roster for the 2011-2012 season.  It is still possible for a few players on the list to be sent down to Albany, especially Rod Pelley and Mark Fraser, who were waived earlier this week.  With his number recently changing to John Madden’s ’11’ (significant because it moved below 30), it appears Brad Mills looks to have made the team.  The same goes for Adam Henrique, who received Brian Gionta’s ’14’ today.  It is great to see that Mills is all but certain to play come Saturday night’s opener, and will get a chance to stick with the Devils long-term this season.  Defensively, while he remains with the team, Anton Stralman has not yet been signed to a contract; perhaps the team is contemplating whether he or Fraser would serve as a better seventh blue liner, if they intend on having one.

Tomorrow, I will try and post some brief NHL season predictions, including award winners, among other things.  Stay tuned for this; we’re only a day away from the start of the season, and three from Devils-Flyers (which I’ll be in attendance for)!

-Drew

PS: Sean Avery (and his ugly sport goggles; click left) was waived, and has sinced pass through waivers, by the Rangers earlier this week, losing the 12th forward battle to Erik Christensen.  While most of us truly despise Avery, it will be a bit odd not having someone to scream towards during Rangers-Devils games this season; oh, well, that’s correctable, I would assume!