Defenseman Ben Lovejoy signed a three-year contract worth $8 million with the New Jersey Devils on Friday.
The contract has an average annual value of $2,666,666. Lovejoy had a few other offers but considered the Devils to be the most comfortable fit at this point in his career.
"I go way back with (Devils general manager) Ray Shero and (Devils assistant GM) Tom Fitzgerald, and I played as a defense partner with (Devils assistant coach) Alain Nasreddine and (Devils coach) John Hynes was my defense coach in my final season in Wilkes-Barre," Lovejoy said. "The Devils are a group I'm excited about joining. I think it's a young talented team that I know from experience is incredibly difficult to play against. It's a situation I'm really excited about."
Lovejoy, 32, played a top-four role for the Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins in 2015-16. He had four goals and 10 points in 66 regular-season games with the Penguins and two goals and six points in 24 Stanley Cup Playoff games.
"I chatted with Ray Shero and he wants me to bring exactly what I've done the past nine years (in the NHL)," Lovejoy said. "He doesn't want me to change anything. I'm coming in to be a leader, to try and help the young defensemen, and to try and show a team what it take to be a successful player in the NHL. I'm going to come to work every day, get better and play as hard as I possibly can."
Lovejoy is glad he will have left wing Taylor Hall as a teammate. Hall was acquired by the Devils for defenseman Adam Larsson on Wednesday in a trade with the Edmonton Oilers.
"I think that Taylor Hall is so good; I hated playing against him," Lovejoy said. "I spent a lot of time against him on the ice when I was in Anaheim and he was with Edmonton. He's a guy that has elite speed that you have to account for on the ice because if you're caught leaning the wrong way, you're in trouble. I think that he will be a huge game-breaker for my new team."
The Penguins signed Lovejoy as an undrafted free agent in June 2007. In 334 NHL games, he has 15 goals and 77 points with the Penguins and Anaheim Ducks. The Penguins traded Lovejoy to Anaheim for a fifth-round pick in the 2014 NHL Draft in February 2013, and reacquired him in a trade for defenseman Simon Despres in March 2015. He has four goals and 14 points in 58 career Stanley Cup Playoff games.
Lovejoy should bring veteran leadership and stability in a top-four role with the Devils in 2016-17.