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Devils to have $9M in LTIR space with Hamilton likely out until playoffs

New Jersey Devils Akira Schmid - The Canadian Press

The New Jersey Devils are set to have cap space to spend as the team looks to replace the services of injured defenceman Dougie Hamilton.

TSN Hockey Insider Pierre LeBrun reports Hamilton is expected to remain sidelined until the playoffs after undergoing surgery on torn pectoral muscle suffered in late November. The timeline should allow the Devils to spend the $9 million in cap space freed with the blueliner on long-term injured reserve. 

"Silver lining. They'd obviously much rather have their top defenceman, Dougie Hamilton, in their lineup," LeBrun said Tuesday on Insider Trading. "But, you know, they officially announced after he had surgery for a torn pectoral muscle earlier this month that he'd be out indefinitely. They don't have a firm timeline, but my understanding is that he's probably out until the playoffs, until perhaps late April or early May.

"The flip side to that is it means they have his $9-million cap hit to play with ahead of the March 8 trade deadline. And that's the intention from the New Jersey Devils – is to likely be aggressive if they improve in the standings here. They've already been doing their due diligence on the D market, but they could also potentially add a goalie. They could add a couple players that could help that roster with that $9 million."

The Devils, who lost 3-2 in overtime to the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday, sit two points out of a playoff spot, but have three games in hand on the Tampa Bay Lightning, who currently own the final wild-card spot. New Jersey is three points back of the Carolina Hurricanes for the top wild-card spot with two games in hand.

General manager Tom Fitzgerald will have a week to weigh any potential trades with the NHL's Holiday Roster Freeze currently in effect and running through Dec. 27. 

New Jersey will host the Edmonton Oilers on Thursday and the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday before their holiday break.