Lou did state weeks ago that he was planning to re-sign five impending unrestricted free agents, as reported by Tom Gulitti. One of those five was defenseman Peter Harrold was one of those five and now he's the second one to get inked. The first was Dainius Zubrus, who's getting $9.3 million over 3 years per Gulitti. This evening, Gulitti at Fire & Ice confirmed the news that the New Jersey Devils re-signed the defenseman to a two year deal for a total of $1.6 million. That's an average accrued value of $800,000 per season, which is arguably reasonable for a #6/#7 defenseman. That's also a raise for Harrold as he made $525,000 on his previous contract. That's also a seventh defenseman from last season returned to the organization.
My initial reaction is that someone's will surely going to have to be traded, right? The Devils now have Greene, Larsson, Fayne, Tallinder, Salvador, Volchenkov, and Harrold back from last season. In Albany, they have had Urbom, Gelinas, Burlon, and Young. Merrill and Helgeson just joined them. Still in development are Severson, Scarlett, Gedig and now Santini. That's seventeen defenseman total. Truthfully, only Urbom, Gelinas, and maybe Merrill may have a realistic chance at the NHL roster next season, but that's still ten defenders. Add one more if Marek Zidlicky is also retained. While the Devils did run with eight defenseman last season, I don't know if they'll do it for another season. I don't know how I would feel about them doing it again. Considering that they still need help at forward, this time period between the draft and July 5 is a good time as any to shop some defenders to try and get that kind of help either for the system or the NHL roster. My point is that the Devils have a lot of defenders and they all can't play. Tough choices that probably could have been made earlier may need to be made soon.
|2013 - Peter Harrold||23||2||3||5||-8||6||1||0||0||17:37||36||5.6|
That said, I don't think keeping Harrold is a bad decision at all. Harrold isn't a bad defenseman by any means. He has his role and he does a good enough job at it. Let's put some numbers into perspective. According to Behind the Net, Harrold mostly played in sheltered situations at even strength in his 23 games last season. Getting an offensive zone start percentage of over 60% certainly makes racking up positive possession numbers easier. Nevertheless, the puck often did go in the right direction when he was on the ice; he did earn a very high on-ice Corsi rate. While that is inflated with his time and zone starts, the rate is so high that he was very much a positive factor on the ice whe he did play. He was doing well in spots where he was expected to do so; just like in 2011-12 when Adam Larsson struggled after his injury. He wasn't getting picked on every time he stepped onto the ice. He can even skate better than at least two other Devils defensemen.
Moreover, it's worth noting that he was a healthy scratch for weeks and weeks to start 2013 but picked up his play as if he was a regular when called upon to the lineup. Just like he did for the Devils in 2011-12, come to think of it. That doesn't sound all that impressive, but having someone experienced enough to just step in does carry value. It gives the coach some flexibility with the lineup. And given some of the performances of some other
Volchenkov defensemen in 2013, he got increased minutes in some games - enough to get an average ice time of 17:37 last season. That's an increase from 14:36 last season and I would say that he did fairly well at it. Overall, there's not really a lot to complain about Peter Harrold's performances.
As much as you and I may want to start seeing if these prospective defensemen can truly play at the next level, I've grown to accept that it's perhaps more preferable to have a veteran to be a #7 defenseman on the roster. With a younger player, you'd want him to play often or at least play quite a lot when he is in the lineup. This way he gets tested and if he does well, his role can continue. But the #6/7 defenseman spot is more in flux. It's really suited for someone who knows that his role may mean he won't play regularly, just to come in and out of the lineup. When he does play, it could be for 18 minutes on one night and 14 minutes the next. Harrold fits that role and he's served in it for New Jersey for two seasons now. What evidence we do have for judging defensemen show that's he's been good at it. Clearly, the organization felt he did well enough in it to keep him. So, he remains. I don't know if a second year was necessary, but given that Harrold is 30 and what I just wrote about his role, I'm fine with this transaction. I must admit that I'll be more fine with it if a defender gets moved one way or another in the coming days.
Of course, you may have an entirely different reaction to today's signing. Are you pleased with Harrold coming back? If so, why? If not, is it because of the contract or Harrold himself? Do you think the Devils really need to move a defender soon? Please leave your answers and other thoughts about Harrold being re-signed for $800k per season in the comments. Thank you for reading and feel free to respond to our quick poll about this signing.