The New Jersey Devils crossed a piece of their offseason to-do list off earlier this week, when they signed young Andrei Loktionov to a new one-year contract. But he’s far from the only free agent that there is to worry about getting locked up before July rolls around.
The Devils have plenty of unrestricted free agents to worry about, but that doesn’t mean that all of them will be back. While veteran forwards like David Clarkson and Patrik Elias are looked at as priorities, there could be a veteran defenseman that has played his last game with New Jersey.
There has been much debate about the future of Marek Zidlicky with the Devils organization. Set to become an unrestricted free agent this month, do the Devils bring the aging veteran back for another couple of years, or cut him loose? Given what the goal for the Devils is this summer, the latter seems more likely.
The Devils have made it clear that one of their goals this summer is to get younger. That goal resides particularly on the defensive side of things. With Adam Larsson set to take over a bigger role on the blue line, and others coming up through the ranks, there’s simply no spot for Zidlicky at this point.
Having spent a year and a half with the Devils organization, Zidlicky is set to turn 37 at some point next season. That aspect alone makes him expendable for a team that is aging as a whole.
Zidlicky had a solid season for the Devils in 2013, providing one of the only sources of consistent production, posting 19 points on the year. But at $4 million, it simply doesn’t make a ton of sense to bring him back, especially with his minus-12 rating. He’ll find a home somewhere out on the free agent market, but the chances of him returning to New Jersey are slim to none.