The New Jersey Devils are investing a lot of money in a banged-up player, hoping he’s healthy enough to provide a good return when he makes a move across the river.
The Devils opened free agency on Friday by signing forward Ryane Clowe to a five-year, $24.25-million contract. They then followed up by adding another veteran forward, Rostislav Olesz, to a one-year, $1-million deal.
People familiar with the deals told The Associated Press the terms of each of the contracts. They spoke on the condition of anonymity because the Devils did not disclose the details.
The signings came as the Devils restocked after losing forward David Clarkson to free agency. Clarkson signed with Toronto later in the day.
Clowe is staying on the East Coast after being acquired by the New York Rangers in a trade with San Jose in April. He had three goals and five assists over 12 games with New York, and was limited to just two playoff games with New York because a suspected concussion.
Former Rangers coach John Tortorella said Clowe was New York’s version of Bruins hard-hitter forward Milan Lucic.
The 30-year-old Clowe has 104 goals and 279 points in his career. Two years ago, he had career highs with 24 goals and 62 points.
The 27-year-old Olesz has 57 goals and 132 points in the NHL, all with the Florida Panthers before playing six games without a point two years ago in Chicago. He had seven goals and 19 points in 14 games last season for the Blackhawks-affiliated Rockford IceHogs of the American Hockey League. Florida drafted him No. 7 overall in 2004.
New Jersey also made a significant signing Thursday, keeping forward Patrik Elias with a three-year, $16.5-million contract one day before he was eligible to become an unrestricted free agent. Elias has spent his entire 15-year career with the Devils, leading the franchise with 375 goals, 555 assists and 930 points. The Devils also re-signed veteran forward Dainius Zubrus to a three-year, $9.3-million contract.