Well, here’s some news that you’ve been waiting for. The Devils announced this morning that they have signed the following players:
Goaltenders: Gerald Coleman (who played in Trenton last season), Jeff Lerg.
Defenseman: Rob Davison.
Forwards: Stephen Gionta, Kyle Kucharski, Brad Mills, Jeff Prough, Ben Walter.
We already knew about the Walter signing, but, for some reason, the Devils are announcing it again. The Davison signing was reported elsewhere last week, but apparently wasn't officially done until this week.
Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello said all of the players signed two-way contracts
"It's to put Lowell in a very strong position, but also (provide) depth for here," Lamoriello said of the signings.
Davison, 29, played 23 games with Vancouver last season, recording two assists and 51 penalty minutes. The 6-foot-3, 220-pound native of St. Catherines, Onatrio has three goals, 15 assists and 321 penalty minutes in 218 career NHL games with San Jose, the Islanders and Vancouver.
Is Davison someone who could end up in New Jersey if needed?
"He's been in the NHL for the last three years," Lamoriello said. "He has size and strength, is tough and can fight. So, once again, we'll see."
The team's goaltending for Trenton and Lowell appears to be set now with the signings of Coleman, 24, and Lerg, 23. Lerg played four years at Michigan State and backstopped the Spartans to the NCAA title in 2006-07. He's only 5-6, 155, so that probably explains why he was never drafted.
The additions of Coleman and Lerg give the Devils some depth in the minors in case prospect Jeff Frazee ends up in the NHL.
"It's for depth," Lamoriello said. "We have five goaltenders under contract."
Lamoriello acknowledged that Kevin Weekes wouldn't be re-signing with the team, but didn't rule out signing another veteran NHL goaltender before the season begins. So, it doesn't necessarily mean that either Yann Danis or Frazee will be Martin Brodeur's backup in 2009-10.
"This is not saying this is going to be what it's going to be," Lamoriello said. "There's still time and we'll see."
Lamoriello mentioned earlier this week that he would be signing some veterans and said today's signings represented "some of them. Rob Davison would be one of them, but not necessarily the end."
That said, Lamoriello made it clear that there will still be an opportunity for young players in the organization to make the NHL team in training camp.
"The way this roster is created, there will definitely be some young players in this lineup." Lamoriello said.
That is a subject that Lamoriello has discussed with incoming head coach Jacques Lemaire.
"There's three or four of these players that are right on the fence and we'll find out quickly (in training camp)," Lamoriello said. "Certainly, what Jacques brings and what I've seen with these young players, I'm totally comfortable. But our core will still be our core. Our six defensemen were here last year. It's going to be up to the younger players -- if it works out. If not, we have other plans."
Here's some info on the other players who were signed today.
Stephen Gionta: Brian Gionta's younger brother is back for his fourth season in Lowell.
Kyle Kucharski: An undrafted, 6-3, 200-pound left wing out of Boston College. He was a member of BC's 2007-08 national championship team. He had 10 goals and seven assists in 37 games in 2008-09l.
Coleman: Made two NHL relief appearances with Tampa Bay in 2005-06. Went 27-8-2 with a 2.38 GAA in 40 ECHL games last season with Trenton.
Lerg: Struggled last season with Michigan State, going 9-20-3 with a 2.94 GAA.
Brad Mills: Entering his third full season in the organization, the Yale graduate had five goals and 16 assists in 75 games last season with Lowell.
Jeff Prough: A 5-10, 170-pound right wing. Had 31 goals and 30 assists in 62 games with Trenton last season.