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Devils sign Salvador, Pandolfo; pass on Brylin

by Dan Rosen

The Devils acquired defenseman Bryce Salvador during the season from St. Louis in exchange for Cam Janssen. He appeared in eight games.
Bryce Salvador video highlights 
Before the free agent market opened Tuesday afternoon, New Jersey's GM and President Lou Lamoriello took some of his players off the shelves.

Forty-five minutes before NHL players officially became free agents, Lamoriello announced he had come to terms with defenseman Bryce Salvador, and forwards Jay Pandolfo, David Clarkson and Barry Tallackson.

Salvador and Pandolfo would have become unrestricted free agents at noon ET. Clarkson and Tallackson were headed toward restricted free agency.

Lamoriello also announced the Devils did not pick up the team option they had on Sergei Brylin's expiring contract, which in all likelihood will end the forward's 13-year tenure with the Devils. Arron Asham will also hit the open market as a UFA.

To top it off, Lamoriello said the organization signed 2007 draft pick Matt Halischuk, a right winger they picked in the fourth round, and 2006 third-round pick, defenseman Vladimir Zharkov.

Meanwhile, Lamoriello said the announcement was made Tuesday morning so he could turn his entire focus toward the open market this afternoon.

"This does not mean that anything that we have is status quo," Lamoriello said. "This does not by any ways say that. This is a foundation."

While re-signing Salvador and Pandolfo were basically no-brainers to Lamoriello, he said cutting Brylin loose was one of the toughest decisions he's had to make.

Brylin has played his entire career in New Jersey and was one of only two remaining Devils to have played on all three Stanley Cup championship teams. Martin Brodeur is the other after Scott Niedermayer left and Ken Daneyko and Scott Stevens retired.

Brylin, though, played a reduced fourth-line role last season and amassed just six goals and 10 assists to go along with a minus-5 rating. He had 16 goals and 24 assists in the 2006-07 season.

"We had a sitdown meeting and spent a considerable amount of time on all different alternatives," Lamoriello said. "It was concluded that it was in the best interest for him is to see what he could do with his future."

Lamoriello, though, did not rule out the possibility of Brylin re-signing with the Devils as an unrestricted free agent either later today or sometime soon.

"You never know on something like that," Lamoriello said. "In our situation here, when you have such a quality player that he's been and the type of person and what he brings in character, you never say never."

But Lamoriello said he didn't think it was possible for the Devils to get both Pandolfo and Brylin signed at the money both commanded because he hopes to integrate some younger players into the lineup this coming season.

Lamoriello wouldn't specify who those younger players were, but 21-year-old Swedish forward Nicklas Bergfors has been on the Devils radar since they drafted him in the first round of the 2005 NHL Entry Draft.

"The role they play and the style they play, with what we have to do with our offense, I don't think we could keep both at this point with what they would need as far as salaries to stay," Lamoriello said.

So, Pandolfo, who is roughly a year younger than Brylin and has also been a Devil for his entire career, remains in Jersey. So does Salvador, who was traded to the Devils at the deadline in a deal that sent Cam Janssen to St. Louis.

Salvador was a plus-12 with 11 points in 56 games with the Blues before the trade. He was limited to just eight regular season games with the Devils due to a left foot contusion. He missed the final 10 games of the season, but returned for the playoffs and registered an assist in the Devils five-game series against the Rangers.

Lamoriello said re-signing Salvador was a unanimous decision among the Devils' coaching staff.

"We felt Salvador, with his experience and character, was someone we wanted in our organization," Lamoriello said.

Forward Jay Pandolfo missed significant time last season with a bone injury, after
playing in 307 straight games for the Devils.
Jay Pandolfo video highlights 
Pandolfo has his name carved into the Stanley Cup twice for championships in 2000 and 2003. He's known as one of the elite defensive-minded forwards in the game.

Prior to suffering a pubic bone injury on Nov. 28 against Dallas, Pandolfo was the Devils ironman having played in 307 straight games. He missed 28 straight games before returning on Feb. 4.

Pandolfo, who is not known for his goal scoring, had eight goals in 24 games before the injury. He had four goals in his final 30 games, which are numbers he's more accustomed to.

He has never scored more than 14 goals in a season, but has had at least 10 goals and 20 points in each of the past four seasons.

Ironically, when Pandolfo went out, Brylin became the Devils ironman. He played in all 328 regular season games for New Jersey since the start of the 2003-4 season.

"It was a time in his life that he had to make a decision and we had to make a decision," Lamoriello said of Pandolfo. "We're delighted to have Jay back. He wanted to be back and we wanted him back, and we're happy to have him back."

Clarkson turned into one of the toughest feistiest players, and a good checking line forward when Pandolfo went out, this past season. He had 22 points and 183 penalty minutes in 81 games.

Tallackson has played in 16 games over the last three seasons and has one goal and one assist. He went pointless in three games this past season. He has 47 goals and 71 assists in 185 AHL games since making his pro debut in 2005.

Halischuk combined for 125 points and a plus-28 rating in 107 OHL games over the last two seasons. He was a first-team OHL All-Star this past season. Zharkov played the last two seasons for CSKA Moscow in the Russian Super League.

Contact Dan Rosen at drosen@nhl.com

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