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New Jersey Devils' Roster Reaches 23: Demoted 3, Kept Damon Severson, Signed Jordin Tootoo

The New Jersey Devils reached their 23-man roster limit on Tuesday by demoting Peter Harrold, Steve Bernier, and Cam Janssen; keeping Damon Severson; and signing Jordin Tootoo to a one-year contract. This is a reaction post to those decisions.

Why, yes, Jordin Tootoo was signed. Here's a picture of him on his way to the box from the Devils-Flyers preseason game.
Why, yes, Jordin Tootoo was signed. Here's a picture of him on his way to the box from the Devils-Flyers preseason game.
Bruce Bennett

As of this writing, all thirty NHL teams are within the salary cap, have fifty or fewer contracts in the organization, and 23 players at most on their active roster.  The New Jersey Devils made their final moves earlier today to meet the active roster limit.   Yesterday's waiver moves - my late reactions to those were in this post - led to demotions to Albany.  Cam Janssen, Steve Bernier, and Peter Harrold all cleared waivers and were re-assigned to the AHL.  Combined with Ryan Carter signing elsewhere, the Devils needed to make a decision between Scott Gomez and Jordin Tootoo.  Lou chose Jordin Tootoo.

The Devils signed Tootoo to a one-year contract worth $550,000 as confirmed in this post by Tom Gulitti at Fire & Ice. Unless I'm mistaken, this is the league minimum.  So it's not like the Devils broke the bank for his services.  As indicated in yesterday night's post and what I said on the latest episode of Talking Red, I was not a fan of Tootoo.  Yes, he'll bring the proverbial "grit" and "energy" and other traits that the Devils really don't need.  Yes, he's better than Janssen but that's really not saying much.   Maybe I'm being too harsh on a preseason effort where he didn't really show too much positive.  Per War On Ice's player history, it appears that Tootoo was once a decent fourth-liner in Nashville.  If it turns out that Tootoo can do some decent work on special teams while not taking a ton of penalties (his career suggests I shouldn't get my hopes up), then I'll be more fine with his addition.  It would then be arguable he would be more valuable than Bernier. For the time being, I'll take "ensuring Janssen or Sestito isn't playing games" as a step up.

Curiously, Gomez isn't completely gone. At the end of Gulitti's post on the Tootoo signing, Gomez agreed to stick around in case a spot opens up.  I know injuries can and will hit this team, but that's a strange thing for a free agent to do.  It's not a guarantee that someone is getting hurt early in the season.  Did he not get any interest from other teams since playing for the Devils in preseason?   It would make more sense to stick around if there was any reason to anticipate a move that would create a roster spot for him.  But that's hardly something to bank on, especially because the team is run by Lou Lamoriello, a man who's among the best at not revealing his position on such matters.

The other big takeaway was that since Peter Harrold was demoted, it really does mean that Damon Severson made the team.  He's got a number less than 30.  He's in - for now.  I will admit that I can understand why some were so enamored with him in preseason.  But he's a 20-year old defenseman who's entering his first full season of pro hockey. I don't think they're keeping him to not play games, that would be silly when he could be getting game experience - albeit at a lower level.  With that in mind, who sits for him?  Andy Greene shouldn't sit.  Bryce Salvador's the captain, he's not sitting.  Marek Zidlicky does something the other defenders don't, so he shouldn't sit.  So it's Severson battling with Jon Merrill, Adam Larsson, and Eric Gelinas for regular minutes.  As funny as it would be to read complaints about how Peter DeBoer hates young defensemen by placing a 20-year old in place of one of those three, I'm not sure how the team benefits. Short of someone getting injured, I think Severson is going to end up in the A at some point (is this really just a tryout?) unless he truly is that impressive.  And at that point, Harrold returns; a veteran #6/7 defenseman would become the team's actual #7 defenseman.

Regardless, the situation is currently clear.  The Devils will have 14 forwards, 7 defensemen, and two goaltenders on their roster to begin their season in Philadelphia on Thursday night.  The next step is for Peter DeBoer and his staff to identify their 20 players for that game.  I think they have one in mind and we'll read about them in practice tomorrow, most likely in the same formation that they'll at least start with.   In the meantime, what do you make of today's news?  Are you pleased that Tootoo was signed?  Are you surprised Gomez is sticking around?  Are you OK with Severson starting on the active roster with the real possibility he'll be in the lineup over another young player?  Please leave your answers and other thoughts about the Devils' roster in the comments. Thank you for reading.