Devils sign leading scorer Gionta, four others

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Devils leading scorer Brian Gionta and four other veterans signed with New Jersey on Tuesday after the NHL gave the team $3.5 million in salary cap relief by placing veteran forward Alexander Mogilny on the long-term injury exception list.

Brian Gionta Gionta

Defensemen Paul Martin and Dave Hale, backup goaltender Scott Clemmensen and center Erik Rasmussen signed one-year contracts as the Devils finalized their roster without violating the league's $44 million salary cap.

Just last week it appeared that the Devils might have to trade some key players to get under the cap, but general manager Lou Lamoriello removed $7.1 million from the cap in the past three days by trading defenseman Vladimir Malakhov ($3.6 million) to San Jose and getting Mogilny and his $3.5 million salary qualified for the exception because of a hip injury.

Gionta, who set a team record with 48 goals last season, and Martin were the main beneficiaries of the new money.

Gionta, who didn't play in any of the Devils' preseason games, signed a three-year contract that will pay him $4 million annually. The right winger led the team with 89 points last season. He had 24 goals on the power play.

Martin, who had five goals and 32 assists in 80 games, got $2 million for the upcoming season, which opens in Carolina on Friday night.

Hale, who split time between the Devils and their Albany farm team, got $550,000. Clemmensen, who played in 13 games as Martin Brodeur's backup, and Rasmussen, who had five goals and five assists in 67 games, got $450,000 apiece.

"It appears that everything was done over the past few days, but it just came together," Lamoriello said in a telephone interview. "We've had constant dialogue. We couldn't do anything until we knew exactly how much money we had."

The Devils were pushed over the cap limit this summer when they signed forward Patrik Elias to a seven-year, $42 million contract -- a $7.5 million contract this season -- and right winger Jamie Langenbrunner to a five-year deal that will pay him $2.8 million annually. Center Scott Gomez was also awarded $5 million for this season by an arbitrator.

The Devils were also responsible for the salaries owed to Malakhov and Mogilny. They were signed as free agents before last season but fell into disfavor.

Mogilny, who has 473 goals in his 17-year career, was sent to the minors, and Malakhov first retired and then was suspended by the team.

Since they were both over 35 years old when they signed, their salaries counted against the Devils' salary cap.

Lamoriello unloaded Malakhov's salary and sent a conditional first-round draft pick to San Jose on Sunday for two players who are not expected to be with the team this season. The Mogilny problem was solved on Tuesday.

The Devils sent centers Adrian Foster and David Clarkson, right winger Barry Tallackson and defensemen Andy Greene, Olli Malmivaara and Johnny Oduya to AHL Lowell on Tuesday. Veteran right winger Grant Marshall, a member of their Stanley Cup championship team in 2003, cleared waivers on Tuesday and was assigned to Lowell.

New Jersey also recalled goaltender Frank Doyle and defenseman Tomas Harant from Lowell to finalize its roster.