I normally don't post up something based on a source, but when it's Tom Gulitti of Fire & Ice reporting from one, then I'm inclined to believe it. Gulitti reported earlier this evening at F&I that Dainius Zubrus will be re-signed by the New Jersey Devils for three year deal at approximately $3 million per season. That would be about a $9 million deal to keep the Lithuanian Freight Train in black and red through 2017.
In a way, this deal makes me feel old. I remember when Zubrus signed a six-year deal back in 2007 worth $20.4 million. Since then, he's been a staple on the team's top six, with occasional stints up or down in the lineup. Zubrus has proven to be a versatile forward, able to contribute on either the left or the right side. His large frame has helped him win pucks along the boards and in corners, something fans have grown to appreciate. He's been a notable part of the aggressive forecheck Peter DeBoer has employed in the last two seasons. Zubrus has been a positive possession player in New Jersey in all six regular seasons in 5-on-5 play according to Behind the Net. Plus, he's done it against at least a decent level of competition in 5-on-5 play so he wasn't always beating on weak opponents (nothing wrong with that, it just speaks better of his game). There's plenty to like about Zubrus, especially if you're into "the little things."
However, there are some caveats with Zubrus, and I don't mean his taste in music. The little things zTunes does stands about a bit more since he hasn't been a productive player. Zubrus' best season in goals and points as a Devil came in 2011-12 when he played mostly alongside a fantastic Patrik Elias, who was a top-ten scorer in that season. Those totals were 17 goals and 44 points. That's not bad, but one would have hoped for more - especially for someone who played a lot on the team's top six. As it turned out, his season high of 57 points back when he centered some guy named Ovechkin did not come close to repeating in New Jersey. Additionally, Zubrus has a lot of games on his body. He just turned 35 in June and has appeared in 1,087 games. Given how physical he gets, one has to wonder about his health going forward in addition to his general effectiveness. While he's had some full seasons with New Jersey, last season should raise a concern or two in the back of the fan's mind. On top of that, whatever deal he signs now will stick to the cap until it's over. The Devils have to be confident he can still contribute in some regard as he goes forward. However, given that age usually isn't kind to one's production, then we should be pleased if he gets near 40 points next season.
That all said, I don't think the reported deal of Zubrus would be such a bad one. I do enjoy watching #8 play and I did want to see him back. I would have preferred one less year for flexibility purposes. I think two years would provide security while the Devils do have some wiggle room should Zubrus hit a decline sooner than we may hope. As far as the possible cost, I can live with it. I would have preferred a little less, like $2.75 million per year, it's manageable - especially in the long term. While the salary cap is going down to $64.3 million, I highly doubt that revenues in 2013-14 will cause the ceiling to stay still. I would expect it to rise, which would make the approximate salary of $3 million per year cost less with respect to the cap.
Of course, Gulitti made it clear in his report that nothing is finalized so the details may change. However, reading in between the lines of Zubrus' quote suggest that it's really all up to details. I think it's safe to say that Big Z will stay in Brick City. Again, I'm not a big fan of just relying on sources, but when Gulitti writes something, then I pay attention and take it as-is.
Should more details emerge, I'll update this post accordingly. In the meantime, let me know what you think about this reported deal. Do you love, like, dislike, or hate the reported details of 3 years for about $9 million? What about the deal would you change to keep Zubrus? Please leave your answers and thoughts about the reported deal and Zubrus in the comments. Thank you for reading.