Devils coach Brent Sutter still plans to at least start training camp with Brian Rolston skating at center with Patrik Elias shifting back from center to left wing on the same line.
"We're going to play through that," Sutter said today. "Probably at the start we'll try it that way and see how that fits between him and Patty. They both obviously are very good players. I thought Patty did a great job last year playing center ice for us. Yet, it's not his natural position and Brian will have a chance to play there in camp, too, and we'll sort it out."
Sutter said he would like to begin forging line chemistry right from the start of camp with only two practices before the first preseason game on Monday night in Philadelphia and the regular season opener against the Islanders already only three weeks away.
"When you have a short period of time to start getting ready for games, you want to have some foundation to work off of and some structure to work from," Sutter said. "I'd like to get into some combinations that we can run with and see how they go."
Sutter said Brian Gionta "possibly" would be the right wing on the line with Elias and Rolston.
"We might start that way or whatever," Sutter said. "Brian (Gionta) has speed and skill too and those guys play at a high tempo."
"When you go out and get a player like Brian Rolston, it changes things," Sutter said. "It adds speed to your lineup with accountability. It changes things you can do."
Sutters also said Zach Parise will remain at left wing. Parise was drafted as a center and played there briefly for the Devils last season. He also skated at center for Team USA in the World Championships last spring.
If Parise remains at left wing, he'd likely be reunited with center Travis Zajac, who struggled last year in his second NHL season. It might only be a coincidence, but Parise and Zajac have been playing together in the informal 4-on-4 scrimmages the veterans have been playing daily at Prudential Center.
The veterans report for physicals on Friday morning and have their first practice on Saturday morning. After having his veterans practice together in the group from the start of camp last season, Sutter said he is "leaning toward splitting them up" into different groups this year to work on lineups he would use in preseason games. That will also give some of the younger players such as Matt Corrente, Nicklas Bergfors, Matt Halischuk and Petr Vrana a chance to practice with the NHLers. Expect Fedor Fedorov to get some time with the NHLers as well.
"We're going to start playing on Monday," Sutter said. "We want to start getting some teams together as far playing together because we don't have much time. There's been different things discussed and they'll be confirmed tomorrow when the older guys come in."