by New Jersey Devils // 10.03.2011 // Feature
Petr Sykora’s future in New Jersey may still be unclear, but he should have a better idea by Wednesday.
Devils’ President/CEO/GM Lou Lamoriello made official several moves Monday, assigning three players to Albany (AHL), and placing eight on waivers. But no decision has been made on Sykora, who made a strong impression at camp as a tryout.
“You kind of want to know what’s going to happen,” Sykora said after Monday’s practice. “You want to know what the future’s going to be. But I’m still here, that’s what counts.”
Lamoriello had only positive feedback for Sykora’s performance at camp. The Devils’ first-round pick, 18th overall, in 1995, he tied for the team lead in preseason goals (2) and points (3).
“There’s no question he’s played well and he’s done everything asked of him,” Lamoriello said. “I think both he and [Anton] Stralman have shown that they’re pros and they’ve shown why they’ve played in the league so long.”
Defensemen Matt Taormina and Alexander Urbom, and goaltender Keith Kinkaid were assigned to Albany. Those put on waivers were forwards Stephane Veilleux, Vladimir Zharkov, Tim Sestito, and Rod Pelley; and defensemen Jay Leach, Peter Harrold, Matt Corrente and Mark Fraser.
Lamoriello said no decisions have been made on where players would be assigned should they clear waivers, but expected to have his roster finalized by Wednesday. The Devils host Philadelphia to open the regular season on Saturday.
Pro tryout Steve Bernier was not offered a contract.
“Bernier we talked to today and mentioned we would not be signing at this point,” Lamoriello said.
He was pleased with Bernier’s camp, indicating that the move came down to roster space.
“I was very happy with him,” Lamoriello said. “He’s a veteran, he knows how to play the game. It’s a question of the forwards that we do have, and the young kids who are very close.”
One youngster whose spot appears all but set is Adam Larsson. The fourth-overall pick at this year’s Draft had three assists and an even rating in four preseason games.
“I think you’ll see Adam Larsson on the team at this point,” Lamoriello said. “There’s no reason to think he won’t be with the way he’s played. We’ll just see how he handles it once the rosters become full. He’ll be given a chance, without question. He deserves it the way he’s played in preseason.”
The young Swede has shown the patience and poise of a seasoned veteran.
“He certainly hasn’t played as an 18-year-old,” Lamoriello said. “I think that the two years prior to him coming here, playing in the [Swedish] Elite League with men, it shows. He’s handled himself very well both offensively and defensively.”
Notes and quotes
Lamoriello on Zharkov:
“He just did not have a good camp. I don’t think he’ll disagree with that. I don’t think we’ve seen the Zharky that we’ve saw a couple of years ago. We talked about that. He’s certainly not out of the picture. He’ll just have to go to Albany and play well, and work his way back.”
“With the addition of Boulton and Janssen, right now he’s not penciled in to play at this time. Where his contract is at and giving him an opportunity somewhere else if another team sees fit, I think is in his best interest at this point. Rod can still play and I’ll be surprised if he is not picked up simply because of what he brings to a team.”
• One of the new looks at Monday’s practice had Dainius Zubrus centering Ilya Kovalchuk and Nick Palmieri.Jacob Josefson, who had been centering Kovalchuk for much of camp, was moved to the third line with Adam Henriqueand David Clarkson.
“We’re going to try some different combinations,” said coach Peter DeBoer. “I think you’re going to see that all year. I’m not really married to line combinations unless they work and they work consistently. It’s no secret we had three goals the last two games, so we’re going to keep shuffling guys around until we find some real good chemistry.”
DeBoer would like to see Zubrus use his size to create scoring opportunities for Kovalchuk.
“With Zubrus, we’re hopeful he can get in on the forecheck – he’s a big body – and draw some people to him, maybe open up a little bit of room for Kovy,” DeBoer said. “He’s done that before with Parise and Elias, so that’s the hope.”