by pcoffey on 09/24/13 at 05:55 PM ET
Rumors had swirled during the summer that Damian Brunner would call New Jersey home for the 2013-14 season, but the sudden signing of Jaromir Jagr seemed to end all that speculation as New Jersey had more than enough candidates to flesh out four lines.
Well, there is always room for one more apparently. As Brunner, the former Detroit Red Wing, remained unsigned the General Manager Lou Lamoriello extended a training camp invitation and after picking up two assists in two preseason games, Brunner will indeed call New Jersey home this season.
"He came to camp without a contract and certainly earned where he's at," Lamoriello said. "He showed us what he can do, firsthand. There's no better way of making a decision or a judgement when you have that opportunity.
Brunner, now wearing No. 12, told reporters he is happy with his new home.
"I think you have to be confident otherwise it makes no sense, or there's no point to coming over to try," Brunner told the team's web site. "I believed that I could come over (from Switzerland), prove myself and get a contract. That's what happened and I'm really happy about it."
Brunner's addition creates another difficult decision for coach Pete DeBoer and his staff, however.
As of Tuesday, the Devils have 19 forwards and will keep, maybe, 13 for the season. An injury or two, however, might keep another player or two around in the short term, but it figures that DeBoer is going to make some tough choices.
At this point, you figure Jagr, Brunner, Patrik Elias, Michael Ryder, Ryane Clowe, Adam Henrique, Dainius Zubrus, Travis Zajac, Steve Bernier, Ryan Carter and Stephen Gionta will make the team.
That leaves enforcers Krys Barch and Cam Janssen on the bubble along with free-agent addition Rostislav Olesz, plus Andrei Loktionov and former first-round picks Jacob Josefson, Stefan Matteau and Mattias Tedenby.
Josefson and Tedenby have been victims of multiple injuries so far in their NHL career, so getting extended ice time with the AHL's Albany Devils wouldn't be the worst of all decisions. Ditto for Matteau, who got a taste of NHL life last season, but now could use a hefty dose of ice time.
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