The news came out today that the New Jersey Devils have put defenseman Anton Volchenkov on waivers for purpose to use their final compliance buyout on him. The move will clear $4.25 million in cap space this year and next.
While I don’t think that Volchenkov was as bad this year as he was in the lockout-shortened season last year, he still wasn’t living up to his cap hit while playing third line defensive minutes. He was the first choice for head coach Peter DeBoer to name as a healthy scratch when he had too many defensemen to work with, so this just seemed like the most logical solution.
When Devils GM Lou Lamoriello decided to re-sign Marek Zidlicky, it looked like they needed to use one of the compliance buyouts on either Volchenkov or Bryce Salvador. Sal is the team’s captain, so it was unlikely that he would be the guy they released. The writing was on the wall for Volchenkov.
It seemed like a move that Lamoriello had to make. He was running out of cap space, and the team still would like to sign a top six forward. There is still their entire fourth line that could return (at least some of them), and they are also going to need space if they are going to give Cory Schneider an extension. Even if the cut wasn’t about pay, the Devils needed the cap relief that Volchenkov’s contract was holding up.
The Devils will be losing their biggest enforcer on the back side of the ice. They need to teach some of the younger defensemen how to play a strictly defensive game to make up for the loss of Volchenkov. With that said, it was still the right move to get rid of him.