Last summer was a tough one for the New Jersey Devils. Coming off of a surprise appearance in the Stanley Cup Finals, they had their issues with players up for free agency. They watched Zach Parise walk away on a new monster contract, while Martin Brodeur flirted with other teams before eventually re-signing.
This offseason features more key players on the market for the Devils. The likes of Dainius Zubrus and David Clarkson will be out on the market. But the most important player for this team to bring back in the offseason will be Patrik Elias, who is heading into his age 37 season.
Elias was one of the only consistent players for the Devils during a rough 2013 season. He continued to be as steady a performer as ever, despite creeping closer to the age of 40. He finished first on the team in overall points and assists, continuing to put up points even after the offense became inept.
Though he saw a bit of a slip in his production, Elias was still very steady for this team. He finished with 36 points on the year, which was among the league leaders. His 22 assists finished in the top 30 in the league. He finished with a plus-5 rating, which was third on the team.
Elias heads into the summer of 2013 as an unrestricted free agent, coming off of a season in which he carried a $6 million cap hit. Luckily, given his age, he’s not in a position where he’s going to be handed any type of raise. But teams are going to be interested in him.
Teams will be looking to add veteran forwards with playoff experience to their roster in a thin free agent market. Elias certainly fits the bill there. Bringing him back will be a priority for the Devils, but it won’t exactly be the easiest of things. We could be in for a situation similar to that of Brodeur.