||[Jul. 2nd, 2006|12:04 pm]
holy hockey; hockey galore
Rangers lose out on Elias, who will remain with Devils
By John Dellapina
New York Daily News
NEW YORK - Unable to beat the New Jersey Devils the last several years, the Rangers have resorted to signing several of them.
While none of the defectors across the Hudson has so far lived up to expectations, the Rangers on Saturday night were in hot pursuit of one that just might: star winger Patrik Elias. Right up until the moment, that is, when Elias decided to stay with the Devils on Saturday night by signing a landmark deal.
Able to draw both locals into a high-stakes bidding war, Elias agreed just after 11 p.m. to a seven-year, $42 million contract that will keep him in New Jersey through the 2012-2013 season. And it will keep him in New Jersey until then because it contains a no trade/no movement clause that precludes the Devils' sending him to the minors against his wishes as a possible way to remove his annual $7 million salary cap hit from their payroll.
Willing and able to pay Elias more than $6 million per year because they have $20 million in cap space going into next season, the Rangers refused to go as long as seven seasons. They also balked at including the no trade/no movement clause that apparently sealed the deal for the Devils.
Having lost Bruce Driver, John MacLean and Bobby Holik to the Rangers in recent seasons, the Devils managed to survive. But replacing Elias would have been nearly impossible, which is why Devils GM Lou Lamoriello was willing to again push his payroll right up to the salary cap ($44 million this season) in order to re-sign him after also re-signing Jamie Langenbrunner on Saturday to a five-year, $14 million deal.
In contrast, the Rangers still have loads of cap room after having spent the first day of free agency acting conservatively - Carolina center Matt Cullen was the only unrestricted free agent they signed - while much of the rest of the NHL was spending money with abandon.