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Elias wants to remain a Devil, ‘but I understand the business side’

Apr 18, 2013, 12:38 PM EDT

Patrik Elias Getty Images

Patrik Elias has spent his entire career in New Jersey.

He’s won two Stanley Cups, been a captain and an alternate.

His coach says he’s a Hall of Famer and his goalie, Martin Brodeur, says he “belongs” in New Jersey.

All that said, Elias isn’t sure he’ll be a Devil after this season.

“It’s special for me to play for one team,” he told the New York Times this week. “It would be special to play here my whole career.

“But I understand the business side.”

Elias, 37, is in the final season of a seven-year, $42 million deal ($6 million average annual cap hit) signed in 2006.

His problem, as it is with every impending UFA from New Jersey, is GM Lou Lamoriello’s preferred negotiating style — which is essentially this:

“No talks while we’re playing, get down to brass tacks when the season is done.”

It’s LouLam’s tried and true method, one that came under scrutiny last season after the Devils advanced to the Stanley Cup finals.

Captain Zach Parise left to join Minnesota, and Brodeur flirted with the idea of leaving before agreeing to a two-year deal.

Elias knows he has to play Lamoriello’s game, even if he’s more than willing to listen to offers now.

“We’ve negotiated with Lou before,” he said. “We know that is not the way he approaches it.”

So, what might the future have in store?

A versatile forward that can play center or wing, Elias is having yet another solid statistical campaign (31 points in 42 games) and continues to produce at a high level.

He projects to enter free agency as one of the best veteran forwards available, along with Jarome Iginla, Mike Ribeiro, Pascal Dupuis, Michael Ryder, Derek Roy and Jaromir Jagr.

It appears the X-Factor will be what Lamoriello and the Devils are comfortable paying.

They currently have 15 players under contract for next season and roughly $25 million to work with — but that assumes they spend to the cap, which they aren’t currently (approximately $11 million under this season).

Lamoriello also has four key RFAs to negotiate with — Adam Henrique, Jacob Josefson, Andrei Loktionov and Matt D’Agostini — and some big UFAs as well: David Clarkson, Marek Zidlicky, Alexei Ponikarovsky and Dainus Zubrus.

As per usual, Lamoriello wasn’t offering any insight as to what he plans to do with Elias.

“He is a player who is unique in this game,” Lamoriello said. “He is a player who can play in all situations at key times.”

  1. edwelsh8 - Apr 18, 2013 at 1:48 PM

    Let Zidlicky walk. You can just put Jon Merrill in his spot.

  2. jb8383 - Apr 18, 2013 at 2:21 PM

    Brodeur didn’t flirt with leaving…he wanted a 2 year deal and he got it it just took Lou a little longer to get it together. That’s a total exaggeration.

  3. jb8383 - Apr 18, 2013 at 3:15 PM

    Also I think my heart stopped when I saw that the author actually replied to me. I do think this is a great article about Lou though, and how maybe his tactics sometimes hurt the Devils. As a huge devils fan I highly respect Lou but sometimes you have to question whether the no negotiating during the season rule actually benefits the team.

    • Mike Halford - Apr 18, 2013 at 5:07 PM

      I guess you have to admire the guy for sticking to his beliefs, but obviously it’s not advantageous in certain situations — like last year w/Parise. There just wasn’t much time between the Cup final and free agency, especially since Lou needed to give the guy some down time after the playoffs were over.

      Not saying that’s why Parise left…but it probably didn’t help the situation. At least if they talked during the year and Lou got a sense Parise was going to walk, he could’ve tried to swing a deal for, I dunno, his negotiating rights or something.

      • jb8383 - Apr 18, 2013 at 5:12 PM

        I agree with you 100%. I think if Lou talked to Parise during the year, he might have had a better idea of where Parise was (but I think maybe Zach strung us along too) and then we could have traded him and at least got something for him!

      • jb8383 - Apr 18, 2013 at 5:41 PM

        Oh and thanks for taking the time to reply!

  4. guanacoracing - Apr 18, 2013 at 6:01 PM

    I hope Elias stays a Devil.

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