Newly-signed Devil Brian Rolston said the Devils were high on his wish lish as he approached free agency. That worked well because Rolston was No. 1 on general manager Lou Lamoriello's wish list, too.
That led to the Devils signing Rolston to a four-year, $20 million contract today that was first reported here on The Record's Fire and Ice blog.
"I'm very, very excited," said Rolston, who was drafted 11th overall by the Devils in 1991 and traded to Colorado in 1999. "It's been a long day today obviously. To be going back to New Jersey, I started my career there and now I'm 35 years old going back. I couldn't be happier. My family couldn't be happier coming back."
Lamoriello said Rolston's agent, Steve Bartlett, was the first agent he called when the free agent market opened for bidding. The Devils had to wait to make sure Rolston would become an unrestricted free agent first. Minnesota traded his rights to Tampa Bay on Sunday, but he turned down to a three-year offer at $4.5 million per season to see what he could get on the open market.
"We couldn't do anything or make a phonecall until 12:01 and to say that Brian, that wasn't the first call that we made, I'd be kidding you," Lamoriello said. "Brian Rolston was the first call we made at 12:01."
The Devils beat out the Rangers and the Detroit Red Wings among 16 total teams that submitted contract offers to Rolston. A league source said the Rangers were one of the finalists, but, in the end, Rolston chose to return to New Jersey.
"There were other teams in it," Rolston said. "I would say Lou stepped up big time and that means a lot to me. I respect Lou and the way he does business...It's a class organization and there were other offers that were maybe a little bit more (money), but at the end of the day I feel that this organization is where I want to be."
Lamoriello would not reveal if he tried to sign a defenseman today and, though he is clearly happy with the players he added (Rolston and Bobby Holik) and retained (Bryce Salvador, Jay Pandolfo and David Clarkson) today,m, he held back from saying he was done signing players or making trades this off-season.
"I couldn't answer that right now," he said. "If we go no further, we're delighted. If we can get better, whether it will be through signing or a transaction (trade), we'll certainly explore it and do it if we can."
According to my figures, the Devils have $2,231,467 remaining in cap space.