According to an article this past week on NHL.com, the Devils “have no internal deadline to sign free agent forward Patrik Elias.” That is via Ray Shero and NorthJersey.com.
Elias had surgery on his right knee in May, an injury that kept him to only 16 appearances for the Devils last season. The NHL.com article says that while Elias spent most of the summer in the Czech Republic, he has been skating in North America at the Prudential Center.
Shero is quoted in the article as saying “(W)e want to make sure we’re on the same page on things, which is, he’ll continue to skate on his own and we’ll kind of see where he is.”
Shero added: “There’s no decision on our end or his end. There’s certainly none to make at this point because he, at this point, doesn’t know when he [can] start to push. When he does that, how’s it going to react? And we’ll see exactly where we are as a team at that point anyway. So we’re going to keep an open mind both ways, but it’s great having Patrik around and I’m happy he’s back.”
The 40-year-old Elias and the team are going “to see how the knee reacts to and recovers from skating before any contract discussions can start.”
The article also acknowledges that there has to be a fit for the new look Devils. With the addition of forwards Taylor Hall, Beau Bennett and Vernon Fiddler this off season, Elias would need a place where he could fit in.
Shero did mention that “at some point later on [maybe] he can rejoin us for practice and see how he does and see how the knee reacts. We haven’t really gotten to that point, either, because let’s just see how things go for him.”
When speaking about where they are in negotiations, Shero said “(T)here’s no deadline whatsoever. We’ll just keep in communication with him and see how he’s feeling.”
Elias has played his entire NHL 20-year career with the Devils.
Overall, it sounds like the Devils are most concerned about Elias’ knee and how that will hold up after the surgery. Many fans would love to see Patrik re-sign here and finish his career as a Devil, but both sides have to take into consideration his health and whether or not he is a fit with the Devils new direction.
While I do not doubt that there is a place for Patrik Elias, the team’s all-time leading scorer, on any Devils team and Elias is known for keeping in very good condition health-wise, I can see how his knee could raise issues. Hopefully he gets one more go-round with the Devils before retirement calls him.