Devils coach Brent Sutter said this morning that Brian Rolston was No. 1 on his off-season wish list. And Bobby Holik wasn't far behind.
"Was Brian on my wish list? No. 1" Sutter said. "Brian and Bobby were somebody Lou (Lamoriello) and I talked at length about. What was unique about both of those players was both are coming back to a program they were accustomed to and when it was all said and done both players wanted to come back. I think that's even more important."
Sutter also thought it was important to strengthen the team at center -- more than upgrading the defense.
"How we improved ourselves down the middle is pretty significant," Sutter said. "For me, they were (higher on his wish list) than any defenseman out there because I was comfortable with our (defense). With a healthy Bryce (Salvador), getting Bryce re-signed, he's going to make our D better right away. Having (Colin) White here, makes our D better right away. Having Johnny (Oduya) and Motts (Mike Mottau) go through a year like they did last year when they got thrown into the fire and then responded very well, is going to make ourselves better. So, I was comfortable with our defense. Both Lou and I felt we needed to upgrade ourselves down the middle."
Sutter said the qualities Rolston and Holik possess were just what the Devils needed.
"Brian's skill level is he's a top six forward, he can kill penalties and we get the guy we needed to quarterback our power play and also being here before," he said. "Bobby is a big centerman that's going to have some arrogance in his game and he's a smart player. He knows how to play the game and he's key on faceoffs.
"Faceoffs to me are puck-possession time in a game. More important than the on-ice presence is what they bring to your dressing room. Players are better with them around. Their leadership qualities are very high with both of them."
Salvador told me that his fractured left fibula, which kept him out for the final 10 regular season games in 2007-08, actually preceded his Feb. 26 trade from New Jersey to the Devils. "I thought it was just a bruise and I tried to play through it," he said.
Salvador said he has had no problems with his leg in training camp.