It appears the Devils will be able to keep highly-regarded defenseman Johnny Oduya from testing the market when the free agency period officiallly begins at noon Wednesday.
Oduya has been priority No. 1 for Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello, who said Monday night that a deal with the speedy defenseman could be finalized Tuesday. Lamoriello and agent Don Meehan are believed to be close to a multi-year contract at about $3 million per season.
"I think that's close," Lamoriello said Monday night about re-signing Oduya.
In fact, Lamoriello wasn't content to stop there.
"Hopefully we can get one or two things done in the next 48 hours," he said.
Emphasis mine. If it's truly for $3 million per season, then I suppose Aftonbladet's report (in Swedish, I used Google trasnaltion on it in this post) wasn't completely out of hand! The quotes from Lou are night and day from what Gulitti had on Sunday, further proving that a "no" from Lou isn't always a "no." Except when it is, of course. Get it? Me neither, and I've been a fan of this team since I was 10.
Anyway, about $3 million/year is an excellent price for a top 4 defenseman who plays well the the Devils' #1 defenseman, Paul Martin; has some offensive skills of his own; and who is still improving the more he plays NHL hockey. He may not be a true #2 defenseman, but in the Devils' system he is in that role. Given that it looks like he will be for more than just a few years is simply great for stability and continuity on defense. The best is yet to come from Oduya, and consdering all this, it's no wonder why I have said over and over and over that the Devils really should and need to re-sign Oduya.
Thankfully Lou is apparently making that happen, which is great for Oduya (he gets a massive raise), the Devils' salary cap (it's not a massive, cap-killing deal), and for other teams in the league (GMs can point to the eventual announcement to justify their deals to other defenders). It's also a sign that the Devils don't need a head coach to have a free agent sign with the Devils - though I can certainly understand the desire for one to be present. Thanks to Chere for posting this up in the evening as it happened! I can't wait for the official announcement. (And if something goes awry, I will admit my error. I have no shame in admitting errors!)
Now I wonder what else Lou has up his sleeve between now and Wednesday?