The New Jersey Devils were busy within the first several hours of the free-agent signing period and wound up with three forwards, including two who could play in their top-six.
The Devils signed left wing Ryane Clowe to a five-year contract reportedly worth $24.25 million and right wing Michael Ryder to a two-year contract reportedly worth $7 million. New Jersey also signed winger Rostislav Olesz to a one-year contract reportedly worth $1 million.
New Jersey also lost right wing David Clarkson, who signed a seven-year contract reportedly worth $36.75 million with the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Devils re-signed forwards Patrik Elias and Dainius Zubrus on Thursday.
"This is a good day for the Devils," general manager Lou Lamoriello told The (Bergen) Record.
Clowe, 30, will likely fill the power forward role that Clarkson played. His contract carries a salary-cap charge of $4.85 million. Clowe indicated during an interview with TSN that the Devils were the team willing to give him the term he wanted on his new contract.
"I'm really excited … it's been an interesting couple of days and I had good conversations with Lou Lamoriello and [coach] Pete DeBoer," Clowe told TSN. "I think New Jersey was pursuing the hardest. I wanted to stay in the Eastern Conference, and playing in New York was great. A lot of it was the term. That meant a lot for me. A lot of teams had interest, but New Jersey stepped up with longer term."
Clowe produced 19 points in 40 games split between the San Jose Sharks and New York Rangers in 2012-13. He had three goals and five assists in 12 games after being dealt to the Rangers on April 2, but injuries limited him to two games in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. He has 46 points in 70 career playoff games.
Clowe told The Record that he has been given a clean bill of health.
"I feel great after getting the time off after the season to relax and recoup," Clowe said. "I'm training hard, everything's normal, so I'm ready to go. It's a five-year deal, I'm 30 years old, I feel like I’m kind of hitting my prime, I have a lot of hockey ahead of me and I'm really excited to join this team."
While Clowe becomes the gritty, powerful forward the Devils needed to replace Clarkson, Ryder fills the hole Clarkson left at right wing.
Ryder had 35 points over 46 games combined between the Dallas Stars and Montreal Canadiens in 2012-13. He was reportedly choosing between the Devils and Boston Bruins. Ryder won the Stanley Cup with the Bruins in 2011. He has 213 goals and 431 points in 677 career games.
Olesz was issued a compliance buyout by the Chicago Blackhawks, making him an unrestricted free agent. He played only six games with the Blackhawks in 2011-12. He did not play in the NHL in 2012-13, but had 19 points in 14 games with the Rockford IceHogs of the American Hockey League.
Olesz scored all of his 132 points in the NHL over 349 games with the Florida Panthers from 2005-2011.