The arbitration hearing for Devils restricted free agent center Travis Zajac is still eight days away, so there is time left to re-sign him without the help of an independent party. So far, however, the sides have not been able to hammer out a deal.
Deadlines have a way of jump-starting negotations and the fact that both sides aren't saying they're finished talking and will wait to see what the arbitrator decides leaves some hope that the hearing can be avoided, but the clock is starting to tick a little louder.
"We'll continue to talk, but, as of this point, there is no agreement," Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello said today,.
Unrestricted free agent Brendan Shanahan also remains unsigned, despite Lamoriello's stated interest in keeping the 40-year-old wing. Lamoriello said there has been "nothing yet" in that area, though.
Shanahan's agent, Rick Curran believes things might heat up soon, though, after a quiet couple of weeks.
I asked Curran if he got the impresion that interested teams have business with other players to attend to first before seeing what room there is for Shanahan in the budget and he said, "It's not that."
"I think everything is real slow right now," Curran said. "People have taken a little time away after the initial frenzy and I expect over the next week or so teams that were intially interested will get back in touch. I'm not concerned."
As we discussed a little on Wednesday, word has it the Rangers are interested in bringing back Shanahan after choosing not to re-sign him last summer. Head coach Tom Renney's departure might clear the way for Shanahan's return.
A report Wednesday said the Philadelphia Flyers are not pursuing Shanahan.
Like a lot of fans, Lamoriello is disappointed that the Devils' home schedule includes only one 1 p.m Saturday game (Nov. 28 vs. Isles) and two Sunday 5 p.m. starts. He explained that this was due to the compressed Olympic-year schedule, which has created a lot of Friday-Saturday back-to-back sets and leaves few opportunities to play on Saturday afternoon. (The earliest a team can play the day after a night game is 5 p.m.). The NBC Sunday telecasts in the second half of the season also hurt the Devils because they have not been selected to play in any of them and are locked out of playing during the same time window.
"What happens is if teams are playing on Friday night, they can't play in the afternoon (on Saturday)," Lamoriello said. "It's hard to have a night off on a Friday. So, if you don't have a night off on a Friday, you can't play an afternoon game on a Saturday. Even if you don't have one (on Friday), the other team does."
By comparison, the Rangers have three 1 p.m. weekend starts at home (one on a Sunday and two on Saturdays). They also have one 5 p.m. game on a Sunday and a 3 p.m. home start for an NBC game against Philadelphia on Sunday, March 14.
The Islanders have three 2 p.m. starts for Saturday home games and make good use of holidays with two Monday 2 p.m. starts (Columbus Day vs. Los Angeles and Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday/Jan. 18 vs. the Devils) and a 2 p.m. start on the Friday after Thanksgiving against Pittsburgh.
They also have four 5 p.m. home games on Sundays -- three of them after playing the night before on the road.
Lamoriello on signing Patrice Cormier: "We liked what we saw certainly in training camp (last year) and what we saw in junior, So we decided to sign him."
Lamoriello mostly squashed any suggestions that Cormier has a chance to play for the Devils in 2009-
"I wouldn't read into it," he said. "The intention is for him to go back to junior. But we'll see how he is in training camp."
Patrice Cormier about his older brother Kevin, who had 94 penalty minutes in 29 games in Trenton last season. also being at the rookie camp this week: "He takes care of me."