Langenbrunner signs five-year deal with Devils
New Jersey Devils
"There is no question he is one of our core players," general manager Lou Lamoriello said. "He is the prototypical Devils player. He works hard. He is a team player. He is a quality individual."
Langenbrunner will earn about $2.8 million per year in the deal that was finalized around noon Saturday, the start of the NHL's free agency signing period.
While he would have been willing to negotiate with other teams, Langenbrunner said in a telephone interview that staying with the Devils should give him more shots at winning the Stanley Cup.
"That's huge for me," said Langenbrunner, who played on championship teams with Dallas in 1999 and the Devils in 2003. "I have been fortunate to play in this league, and for the last nine or 10 years to make the playoffs and to have a chance.
"That's all you want," he added. "You don't know what is going to happen next year, but staying with the Devils I think gives me a shot."
Other factors for Langenbrunner, who will be 31 in July, were the length of the deal and his comfort level with the Devils organization despite recent turnover. Claude Julien was hired as coach last month to replace Lamoriello, who took over after Larry Robinson resigned in December.
"We all knew someone else would coach," Langenbrunner said about the hiring of Julien. "Unlike most organizations where a coach coming in influences everything, you know what to expect in New Jersey. [Defenseman] Colin White had him as a coach in juniors and he liked him."
Acquired from Dallas late in the 2001 season, Langenbrunner had 11 goals in the Devils' run to the Cup in 2003.
Langenbrunner was third on the team in scoring last season, posting 19 goals and 34 assists in 80 games. He added three goals and 10 assists in nine playoff games. New Jersey swept the New York Rangers before losing in five games to the eventual champion Carolina Hurricanes in the second round.
Stephen Bartlett, Langenbrunner's agent, said 25 or 26 teams wanted to talk to Langenbrunner, one of the game's top two-way players.
With Langenbrunner under contract, Lamoriello still has to find a way to sign Patrik Elias, who also is a free agent. The left wing had 16 goals and 29 assists in 38 games after returning from a battle with hepatitis.
The 30-year-old Elias is believed to be looking for a new contract that would pay him the league maximum of $8.8 million, or 20 percent of the cap.
The signing of Langenbrunner pushes the Devils' salary commitments to about $39 million.
While the salary cap is $44 million, Lamoriello can exceed that figure by 10 percent provided the team gets back to the cap limit by the start of the regular season.
Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press
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