The New Jersey Devils have agreed to a buyout with forward Dainius Zubrus. Zubrus has been a mainstay in the team’s line-up for the last eight years. Zubrus hasn’t been much of a spark over the last few seasons for New Jersey, where he has struggled to play consistently. Zubrus was drafted in the first round of the 1996 NHL Entry Draft by the Philadelphia Flyers, before moving on to Montreal and then being traded to Washington. After his 3 year stint in Washington, he signed a one year deal with the Buffalo Sabres before agreeing to a long-term contract with New Jersey.

When the Devils signed Zubrus as a free agent in 2007, they knew what they were getting; a tough player who could add a few points to contribute to the line-up. Over his first six seasons in New Jersey, Zubrus was consistently putting up 30-45 points a season, and playing the physical style that New Jersey was looking for. Over the last two years, he has had a significant drop in point total, tallying 26 points over 82 games in 2013-2014, and this past season, he tallied only 10 points over 74 games. New Jersey’s new general manager, Ray Shero has certainly shown a commitment to decreasing the age of the roster, and this move furthers that vision by creating a roster spot for a younger, possibly more skilled forward. Zubrus has had a long NHL career, playing 20 seasons in the NHL. The Devils felt that it was time to move on from Zubrus, most likely due to his significant dip in production last season. Zubrus was a main stay under former GM Lou Lamoriello.

The buyout creates an opportunity for players like Pavel Zacha (the Devils 2015 1st Round Pick), Reid Boucher, Stephane Matteau, and others like former collegiate standout, Blake Coleman. The Devils will still be charged with his $3.1 million cap hit this season due to Zubrus being a 35-and-over signing, so this was clearly about giving more opportunities to those and other younger players. Overall, it’s a good move, as they continue to press forward with their vision of revitalizing the team. It’s unsure yet if he will sign somewhere else or decide to retire (as he is 37 years old). In 1,243 NHL games, Zubrus has tallied 225 goals and 359 assists for a total of 584 points. When the Devils made their Stanley Cup run in 2012, Zubrus played a vital part of it all, providing solid play and being aggressive on the fore check. New Jersey fans will never forget the heart and passion that Zubrus has played with over his eight years in New Jersey. Though this may be a goodbye, it’s also a way to say thank you to Zubie (as so affectionately called by Devil fans).

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