-- It's only a matter of time before New Jersey Devils
General Manager Lou Lamoriello is forced to make a move in order to maneuver his club within the limits of the NHL's $59.4-million salary cap.
The hard truth of the matter is someone well-respected and liked both on and off the ice is going to be the odd man out prior to New Jersey's season-opener at the Prudential Center against the Dallas Stars
on Oct. 8.
Devils captain Jamie Langenbrunner
, one of several players rumored to be on the block, knows it's inevitable something will happen. But he also knows the future is something no one can control, no less predict.
"I think in my situation, having a no-trade clause, at least I'll have a heads up," Langenbrunner told NHL.com. "I'm not going to be caught be surprise by anything. But to be honest, I said to a couple of guys in here not to worry about it. There's nothing we can do about it. We have to stay focused on what we can control and go from there. Obviously, all of us are smart enough to know which guys are vulnerable, but you can't really worry about it."
Langenbrunner, who is entering the final year of a five-year, $14 million contract, has been New Jersey's captain since 2007. The Devils, of course, went over the salary cap when the NHL approved Ilya Kovalchuk
's 15-year, $100 million contract.
In addition to Langenbrunner, the Devils possess seven other no-trade contracts, including those of forwards Brian Rolston
, Patrik Elias
(no movement) and Jason Arnott
, defensemen Colin White
and Anton Volchenkov
and goalies Martin Brodeur
and Johan Hedberg
"I always told my kids when I signed the no-trade that it didn't mean I was never going to get traded … it just meant a little more control and that was one thing that was important to me," Langenbrunner said. "When you have a family and have the option to get that no-trade in the contract, it's important."
For now, Langenbrunner is just glad to be on the ice, preparing for the 2010-11 campaign with the Devils. He's excited about the recent changes made to the lineup.
"I think there are some very good additions and bringing Jason (Arnott) back was big because of that need for another center," he said. "We've been trying to force guys into certain positions and playing out of position for a while so it's good to have two very capable top-line centermen (Travis Zajac
and Arnott). Having Kovy back in the fold is great; he's a dynamic player who can change the game himself and we made some nice additions in the back end, although we still have to wait and see how it all comes together."
Throughout most of the preseason, Langenbrunner has been handling second-line duty alongside Arnott and either Patrik Elias
or rookie Mattias Tedenby
on the other wing. Whether Tedenby makes the opening-night roster or gets shipped to the club's American Hockey League affiliate in Albany remains to be seen.
Langenbrunner feels first-year coach John MacLean
has been a positive influence on not only the youngsters, but those veterans in the group.
"John's done a great job and I'm fortunate to have known him for a long time," he said. "I had him as an assistant coach (in New Jersey) for a lot of years. He's a guy who's open and who you can talk to. His door is always open and he'll explain what's going on. I think as long as guys are up front, he's a pretty easy guy to deal with. He has a great attitude and he's excited to be here. He's excited to get this head coaching job with the Devils."
MacLean knows players are privy to the fact one or two moves will be made before the season starts, yet everyone has taken an upbeat and positive approach.
"I haven't felt any (tension) in the locker room," MacLean said. "I think we all know it's out there and it's something we'll have to deal with and we will. Right now, it's been a pretty positive camp. I think we have a lot of quality people and we're all in here for the same thing. It's team first, and I think everybody has been on that page and that's been good for everyone."
MacLean, drafted with the No. 6 pick by the Devils in 1983, was traded twice during his 18-season career. He was dealt by the Devils to the San Jose Sharks
in 1997 and then later traded by the New York Rangers
to the Dallas Stars
He obviously knows what the players are going through, but also understands the business they've chosen.
"Everybody knows, more than likely, something is going to happen," MacLean said. "The players are all aware. We've addressed that. But still, we're professionals and we have to play the game and go through it. So far, that's the way everyone has been working."
Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale