NHL.com: Devils Not Rushing Elias Decision

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.

Schneider Tells NHL.com that Devils are “In the Mix” Following Big Summer

In an interview with the NHL.com, Devils All-Star goaltender Cory Schneider discussed his team’s moves during the 2016 offseason and their chances in the 2016-17 season.

“I think we’re definitely in the mix,” Schneider told the NHL’s official website in an interview also posted to the Devils’ website. “You just have to be better than eight other teams in your conference. I think that’s our objective and once you get in, you’re in and anything can happen.”

Schneider also mentioned how acquiring Taylor Hall from the Edmonton Oilers will make them a big threat offensively, something they have never really been before. He mentioned that he used to face Hall a lot when Hall was with Edmonton and Schneider was with the Vancouver Canucks and knows the kind of offensive firepower he brings to a team.

Schneider called Hall a “bona fide superstar” in the NHL and gives the Devils, who have “had a very blue-collar mentality” a chance to score goals each night and added that “it’s good to have that kind of talent and a game-breaker like that.” The Devils’ offense was ranked last in the NHL last season.

The Devils’ goalie, who will suit up for Team USA at the upcoming World Cup of Hockey, said that it is unfortunate that New Jersey had to give up a talent the likes of Adam Larsson to get Hall, but said that you have to give a lot to get a lot in the NHL.

He called Larsson “a great player and a great person” also saying that “(I)t has been fun watching him mature and develop.” He pointed out that Larsson ate up a lot of minutes in games and he and defense partner Andy Greene were regularly tasked with shutting down the opponent’s top line. Larsson was second in ice time per game on the Devils (22:30) according to the article and fifth in the NHL in average ice time per game on the penalty kill (3:20). Larsson will be hard to replace, but Schneider does feel that the acquisition of Hall was a good move in the long-run.

He also praised Devils GM Ray Shero, saying that he and the coaching staff “have done a great job identifying our weaknesses and trying to address them.” Schneider feels that Shero “has done a good job of clearing out some older guys. You loved playing with all of those guys, but he wanted to make up younger and faster, and I think he’s been doing that.”

When talking about the other moves the Devils have made this offseason, including adding Beau Bennett, Vernon Fiddler and Ben Lovejoy, Schneider said that “(Y)ou see teams do it in this league that in a couple of years, they’re able to turn things around pretty quickly and establish that culture of winning or getting in the playoffs.” He mentioned that “it can change in a hurry. We haven’t had the luxury of a top pick – first overall or top three, top five – so maybe that makes it a little bit hardere because that’s where you find those talents.”

Schneider especially feels that Lovejoy will be important in filling the void left by Larsson. “I was joking that we might have to win 4-3 this year instead of 2-1” he said referencing the added offense that Hall will bring but also that he will have to work harder in net to keep the Devils in games defensively. But Schneider has been one of the bright spots for the Devils over the last few seasons. He was the Devils’ lone All-Star last season, was named to Team USA for the World Cup and has been one of the best goaltenders in the NHL the last four or five years. The article on NHL.com mentions that he was basically one of the main reasons that the Devils were still in playoff contention late in the year and that they really faded once injuries hit Schneider (he is fully recovered from core muscle injury surgery that he went through on May 12).

If Cory can stay healthy throughout the World Cup tournament and if Taylor Hall can meet the expectations that the Devils have for him, a playoff berth may just be in the Devils’ future. And from there, as Schneider himself pointed out, anything can happen.