Add Brian Gionta's name to the list of the Devils' potential unrestricted free agents who will likely hit the open market at noon on Wednesday.
After not having any contact with the Devils since the end of the regular season, Gionta's agent, Steve Bartlett said today that he's had "a few casual conversations" with general manager Lou Lamoriello in the last week.
"I think everyone is on the same page in that there certainly is mutual interest and respect from both parties to get something done, but also an acknowledgement that that might not be possible to do so before July 1 for a lot of reasons," Bartlett said.
The biggest is the salary cap. Teams were able to finally start budgeting their payroll for the 2009-10 season after it was announced on Friday that the salary cap will be $56.8 million.
Although Lamoriello has been trying to re-sign defenseman Johnny Oduya before he hits the open market and also has been working on a new deal for restricted free agent center Travis Zajac, re-signing Gionta apparently falls a little farther down the team's list of priorities.
"I just think in this enviroment of cap issues, with multiple pieces of a puzzle you can't always get them to fit in until you -- one may depend on another and it doesn't alway work that way," Bartlett said.
It is Bartlett's impression that there are other things that have to fall into place before the Devils figure out what cap space they have left to re-sign Gionta.
"Probably, yeah, or at least at a level that would be acceptable to us," Bartlett said. "The communication will continue after July 1 and there certainly isn't a feeling that there isn't an interest in getting something done or continuing to talk, but at the same time, there can be no guarantee that something will get done. Everybody is understanding of and comfortable with each other's position and we'll continue to keep in close touch."
So, Gionta and Bartlett will start to listen to offers from other teams at noon on Wednesday?
"That's my anticipation," Bartlett said. "We probably will get to July 1 and at least get a better understanding as to what else is there and then relay that back to the Devils to see how that fits into their plans."
Potential UFAs John Madden and Mike Rupp have also said they plan to field offers on July 1. Goaltender Scott Clemmensen said he "most likely" would as well, "unless there is an offer I simply can't refuse."
Rupp said today that there still has been no contract talk between his agent, Allan Walsh, and the Devils.
"I don't believe so," he said. "So, I'm just going to wait and see."