Devils goaltender Scott Clemmensen said today that, barring something unforeseen, he plans to become an unrestricted free agent at noon on Wednesday and to field offers from other teams.
"More than likely, yes, unless there is an offer I simply can't refuse," he told me from his summer home in Saratoga.
Clemmensen said that he expects to talk to general manager Lou Lamoriello before he becomes a free agent. He said the two have tried to have a sitdown since the season ended, but their timing and travels have prevented it.
"We've been meaning to get together to talk about things," said Clemmensen, who had to skip his end-of-season sitdown with Lamoriello when he was called off to join Team USA at the World Championships in Switzerland. "I expect we will talk. It just hasn't happened, yet."
Clemmensen, who will turn 32 on July 23, said a return to the Devils is still a possibility. It sounds like the odds are against it, though.
"I haven't ruled out going back ot the Devils," he said. "It's just going to depend on a lot of things."
Clemmensen said his top priority is playing time.
After serving mostly as a little-used NHL backup or playing in the minors for most of his first seven seasons as a professional, Clemmensen finally got his chance to play regularly after Martin Brodeur tore a biceps tendon in his left arm on Nov. 1.
It initially looked like Kevin Weekes would handle the bulk of the Devils' goaltending duties while Brodeur recovered, but Clemmensen, who was in the minors before Brodeur was injured, emerged as the temprorary No. 1 and helped save their season. In 40 NHL games. Clemmensen went 25-13-1 witha 2.39 goals-against average and .917. He became only the second goaltender in team history (behind Brodeur) to win 25 games in one season.
Before 2008-09, Clemmensen had never played more than 13 NHL games in one season.
"I've been in the game for eight seasons and I felt like I was able to get my foot in the door over the first seven, but (last season) for the first time I felt like I got my whole body in the door," he said.
With Brodeur healthy and expected to resume at least most of his usual heavy workload in 2009-10, however, there might not be much of an opportunity for Clemmensen to play if he re-signs with the Devils.
Now, that Clemmenen has had a taste, he'd like an opportunity to at least compete for a No. 1 goaltender job somewhere -- if such an opportunity is available.
"That's what I'm hoping for," he said. "It's so hard to break into this league. As a goaltender, there are only so many jobs. I don't really know what's out there and what other teams are thinking in terms of opportunities, but, like I said, I haven't ruled out going back to the Devils."
Clemmensen admited that having the security of having a one-way contract after only getting a two-way contract from the Devils last season is also important. If there isn't a No. 1 job that he can compete for elsewhere, getting the security of a one-way deal from the Devils might be appealing to him.
"Playing time in the NHl is priority No.1," he said. "Obviously, there are other things that we are looking for as far as security and as far as what type of contract is beneficial to me."
If Clemmensen does opt to leave, that would likely improve the chances of Weekes, who is also slated to become an unrestricted free agent on Wednesday, coming back ot the Devils.
Clemmensen on Brent Sutter's defection to Calgary: "When you are making a decision based on family, it's kind of hard to know it. You can't argue with it."
On whether he was surprised Sutter signed with the Flames so quickly after leaving the Devils: "Not necessarily. He's a good coach and had an opportunity to be close to home and, obviously, he had a relationship with the GM there."
I am not in Montreal, but will be covering the NHL Entry Draft tonight and Saturday from home. I will be posting the Devils' picks as quickly as possible after they are made. I should have quotes tonight from the Devils' first-round pick and Lamoriello and I'll have more Saturday for Rounds 2 through 7.
I'll also be keeping track of where Kyle Palmieri of Montvale is drafted because of his New Jersey link and the interest in him here because of that.