The New Jersey Devils have made many changes this offseason, but at the same time they have brought back a good amount of players. Marek Zidlicky, Jaromir Jagr, Steve Bernier and Stephen Gionta all signed deals to wear red and black sweaters for at least one more season. Andy Greene and Cory Schneider signed long-term extensions to keep themselves in the Garden State. One main name that has yet to sign with the Devils, or any other team for that matter, is Ryan Carter.
Part of the famous fourth line that helped the Devils get to the 2012 Stanley Cup Finals, Carter had a less than stellar season in 2013-14. He spent a large amount of time with Gionta and Bernier as linemates, who all had terrible starts to the season. Carter missed close to five weeks after hurting his knee during a fight. While his seven goals were a career high, he had his second worse plus/minus in his career (-6). Despite the bad, he is a great part of the Devils.
Carter is the kind of forward you would think would be a Devil. He is a great two-way forward. He gets to the right place at the right time. He will do anything you ask of him. He would make a great addition to any team, and would be a loss for the Devils.
One of the most interesting cog in this story is his relationship with head coach Peter DeBoer. They have been together since their days with the Florida Panthers. DeBoer personally wanted to bring Carter in because he knew what he could do. DeBoer may be the reason why Carter would be willing to wait this long for a deal to get done.
The problem here is the Devils have 14 forwards on one-way contracts. To be able to bring in Carter, the team would have to move at least one of their current forwards. Many have pointed to Damien Brunner and Michael Ryder as possibilities. Both are in the final year of their contracts, and had disappointing first seasons in New Jersey. They are both talented enough to garner attention around the league, but it is near impossible to figure out what GM Lou Lamoriello is thinking on a given day.
Ryan Carter is an asset. He would be great to have, but the team may not have room for him. It will be interesting to see if another NHL team joins the mix for his services. For now, expect him to eventually come to an agreement with the Devils.