As the day of Free Agency Frenzy becomes closer, today was a crucial day for preparations. Any restricted free agent had to be tendered a qualifying offer by 5 PM EDT today. The deadline for buying out players is tomorrow, however a player must go through and clear unconditional waivers before that can happen. As that requires a day to do, the buy out deadline was effectively today for most players. Any player with a no movement clause can block these waivers and decide to be bought out immediately. It's 6:49 PM as I write this and no New Jersey Devils players were put on unconditional waivers earlier today. So unless something stunning happens with Patrik Elias, Ryane Clowe, or Tuomo Ruutu (they all have no movement clauses per General Fanager), it appears no Devil will be bought out ahead of unrestricted free agency beginning on Wednesday.
UPDATE: Per the comments, I may be too hasty in stating that the Devils won't buy anyone out. Per James Mirtle on Twitter:
Tomorrow is the final day to waive player for purpose of buyout. Hearing there's guaranteed to be at least couple more.— James Mirtle (@mirtle) June 29, 2015
The first reply to that thought the same thing I did, Mirtle said there could be more. So we'll see. There hasn't been any indications of any Devils being bought out. Alas, I could still be wrong. Thank you, commenters, for setting me straight.
Among those players being bought out, I would like the Devils to at least think about two of them: Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau and Cody Hodgson. Fans at Habs Eyes on the Prize aren't happy about Parenteau being bought out. While his production was meager, this comment by Marc Dumont notes his shooting percentage was at a career low and he was positive in posssession. He also played right wing, which remains a position of need. Put the two together and the Devils really could do worse than kick the tires on a soon-to-be-bought out Parenteau. Hodgson got a contract he couldn't live up to, played on an awful Buffalo team, and put up a mere 13 points. However, he's 25, he's a right-handed shot who's listed as a center (I think could be moved to wing), he shot at 4.7% after a career of shooting above 11%, and he managed a positive relative Corsi For% on one of the most heinous Corsi For% teams in history. I think there's a good player there, though I am not a 100% on board with signing him since his defensive skills are apparently weak. Again, it's another player to consider amid this thin free agent market.
So that's what's up with the buy outs. Also, qualifying offers were finally tendered. Tom Gulitti did report earlier last week that most of the pending RFA's were tendered: Adam Larsson, Eric Gelinas, Seth Helgeson, and Stefan Matteau. Two were not and Gulitti confirmed that earlier this evening at Fire & Ice. That would be defenseman Corbin McPherson and goaltender Maxime Clermont. McPherson has been a regular defender with Albany since graduating from Colgate. The 26-year old was a 2007 third rounder and has played fairly consistently with the A-Devs, but he has not received consideration to play with New Jersey even though the NHL team went deep into the minors on more than a few occasions in the last three years. Clermont continued to unimpress in the ECHL, where he spent most of last season. In 2014-15, that was with Orlando where his overall save percentage of 89.7% turned few heads. The 23-year old goalie made six appearances with Albany, putting up an also not-so-impressive 90.6% overall save percentage. Clermont was behind Scott Wedgewood and Scott Clemmensen last season as he was behind Wedgewood and Keith Kinkaid in the prior year. He has done nothing himself to warrant moving up the depth chart.
As neither McPherson or Clermont impressed, I'm not at all surprised they were not qualified. Does this mean they're done in the organization? Possibly. An non-tendered restricted free agent becomes an unrestricted free agent. But it's not a guarantee. Albany could sign either to an AHL deal, where they would remain on their depth chart but not take up a NHL contract spot or could be called up to the NHL. With exactly six non-NHL defensemen signed - which does include Vojtech Mozik, who could very well make the New Jersey roster - I could see McPherson returning on a different contract. Likewise, I could see a defenseman added just for the AHL to bolster their depth.
This lack of a qualifying offer for Clermont is a bit more interesting. It comes at a time where Scott Clemmensen is currently considering a job as the organization's goaltender development instruction, per Gulitti's article. He won't be coming back to play. That means the Devils organization has three goalies. They'll at least need a fourth for Albany alone. Given that Wedgewood's numbers aren't that hot either, I wonder whether the Devils will sign a veteran for the A-Devs. Such an experienced player would give Wedgewood some competition and possibly make Albany a better team. There isn't a lack of goaltenders available for this role. There are 26 unrestricted free agent goalies available per General Fanager. At least ten of which who would likely be willing to play in the AHL. It is certainly possible for the Devils to get someone cheap for at least Albany, if not the #3 position on the depth chart. We'll see whether that gets added to the team's proverbial shopping list for Wednesday. I think it does, even if it is only "minor."
Free agency frenzy is less than two days away at this point and final preparations will take place tomorrow. Look out for some late re-signings and other hot news to come. In the meantime, I want to know what you think. Did you want the Devils to buy out anyone? If so, who and why? Is there anyone bought out that you want the Devils to consider signing on Wednesday? What would you do with Albany given that McPherson and Clermont are set to become UFAs? Please leave your answers in the comments. Thank you for reading.