The Devils had planned to make their team's first cuts today. However, according to Tom Gulitti, that will be postponed maybe - from what the article quotes coach Jacques Lemaire as saying - until after the team's pre-season game against Philadelphia a week from Saturday. By then, the Devils will have played four of their five pre-season games.
The culprit behind the cuts being so difficult to make at this point, according to Lemaire, appears to be Patrik Elias' injury status:
That said, Lemaire sounded like he has a pretty good idea of who will be on his team in certain positions, with the obvious biggest question mark being at center.
"Now it is because of [Patrik] Elias," Lemaire said. "If Elias would be playing, we wouldn't have a problem. One of the four kids we have we can play easy."
The four kids Lemaire was reffering to are Rod Pelley, Patrice Cormier, Mike Swift and Tim Sestito.
Lemaire claims that defense and wingers are pretty much set, with Gulitti stating that the Devils may keep as many as eight defensemen with the big club, none of them being prospects such as Matt Corrente:
It looks like Cory Murphy and Jay Leach are the seventh and eighth defensemen and both might end up staying with the team if Murphy can show he can produce on the power play. The top six will probably be Paul Martin, Johnny Oduya, Colin White, Mike Mottau, Andy Greene, and Bryce Salvador.
It's a shame that the Devils won't be able to bring the highly-touted Corrente onto the roster. It's good for him to get another year under his belt professionally, but it certainly makes training camp next Fall somewhat make-or-break for him. It also speaks quite a bit to how impressive the Devils' supposed "no-name defense" has been during camp that a new coach hasn't seen fit to shake things up at all.
As for the battle to play center, it will be interesting to see who plays in the AHL game vs. Adirondack on Saturday and who does not. As all veterans have off, it pretty much gives Lemaire the license to use anyone from the Pelleys and Leblonds of the world on down, which means we could see Rod Pelley, Patrice Cormier, Mike Swift and Tim Sestito as the four centerman, each fighting for ice time and a chance to play with the big club next Wednesday with the Islanders.
THROW-AWAY NOTES: As both Gulitti and Chere mentioned earlier today, Kevin Weekes is not giving up hockey for good, despite being named a permanent analyst for this season's "Hockey Night in Canada" broadcast... With Howie Rose still working for some terrible baseball team, Hockey Hall of Famer Jiggs McDonald will call the Devils-Islanders pre-season game next Wednesday on MSG Plus with Billy Jaffe. No word on whether MSG Plus will add a Devils analyst to join them, as they did Joe Micheletti for the Devils-Rangers game (though we're sure it's not hard to convince Chico to go to Long Island).