The New Jersey Devils, pressed against the maximum cap and facing a Wednesday deadline to get under it, decided to not make any further roster moves today. The lack of movement leaves the Devils with 20 healthy players on the roster.
Anssi Salmela and Bryce Salvador are out with injuries.
The Devils, who have yet to place Salvador on the Long Term Injured Reserve, could use the injuries for short-term cap relief. By placing Salvador with Salmela on the LTIR, the Devils would be allowed to play above the cap maximum. Salvador, who is out indefinitely with a concussion, would have to miss either 10 games or 24 calendar days while on LTIR.
Nothing is set in stone, but it seems likely the Devils will open their season Friday with only 20 healthy skaters. That leaves General Manager Lou Lamoriello exposed, because if a player gets injured, but not seriously enough to go on LTIR, the Devils would be unable to call up a replacement player. With six games in nine days to open the season, the injury risk will be a factor night in and night out.
Defenseman Colin White acknowledged the team will need to play through injuries.
“The situation is what it is,” White said to Tom Gulitti of the Bergen Record. “We’re just sitting here and we’re getting ready for the season and we’re excited about it…We’ll deal with whatever comes. There’s going to be injuries throughout a season. There always are. We just have to battle through them and stay focused as a group for every game.”
Several players, including captain Jamie Langenbrunner, felt some relief that they were still with the team.
“It looks like this is what it’s going to be going forward for a while,” Langenbrunner said to Gulitti. “Everyone will have to fend for their health, but for now the focus is on Friday. All of us in this business know that there’s never going to be relief any time, so I don’t think it’s that’s big of a deal for us. (But) we knew something was going to happen or we thought something would, so there’s a little bit of relief.”
The lack of moves today showed the Devils will likely keep two rookie defenseman on the opening night roster. Both Alexander Urbom and Matt Taormina were assigned new uniform numbers today, increasing the possibility that both may be in uniform.
Both players were excited for the opportunity.
“Of course you get excited,” Urbom said. “They told me I was staying here, so we’ll see how long. Of course, it’s fun to be here.”
“It’s something I always wanted to do, play in the NHL,” Taormina said. “And to get that chance is amazing.”
Coach John MacLean believed they earned the right to make the roster.
“They’re both young guys,” MacLean said to Gulitti. “I thought Taormina moved the puck very well and I think Urbom has a great upside. He moves the puck well. He’s big. He’s mobile. I’m not sure of his total size, but he’s over 6-2, I think, and a big guy like that who can skate well…And you know what? They’re both very coachable. They’re going to make mistakes. We know that. But they’re going to also learn from them and get that experience. So, we’re excited that they’re around.”
Urbom will wear number 29, which was worn by Salmela last season. Taormina will wear number 20, which was Jay Pandolfo’s number.