Earlier today, New Jersey Devils forward Michael McLeod and defenseman Cal Foote took an indefinite leave of absence from the team. As a result, the Devils are minus a center (and defenseman), but they can address that on waivers leading up to 2 PM tomorrow.
The Devils are battered and bruised as a result of a plethora of injuries. Jack Hughes won’t be back before the All-Star break and Tomas Nosek is skating and although he could return soon, it’s unclear when. With the Devils’ injury luck this season, they can use as many bodies as they can take.
Earlier today, the Calgary Flames placed center Adam Ruzika on waivers with the intent to re-assign him to the AHL Calgary Wranglers. The 24-year-old forward hasn’t quite repeated his solid 2022-23 performance scoring six goals and 20 points in 44 games. Instead, Ruzika’s struggled this season scoring just three goals and nine points in 39 games.
Regardless, there are a few things that are appealing about Ruzika, both short and long-term.
The Slovakian forward is a big body, standing at 6-foot-4, 215 pounds. He can certainly be plugged into New Jersey’s bottom six, even when they’re completely healthy. Plus, his contract is extremely team-friendly $762,500 cap hit. Further, he’s just 24 years old which fits in quite well with the average age of the Devils.
Even further, this likely isn’t something that’s going to sway Tom Fitzgerald one way or another. However, Ruzika is familiar with fellow Slovak Simon Nemec. Ruzika and Nemec both played for Team Slovakia at the 2021 Olympics.
There’s only one issue. The Devils’ waiver priority is currently 18th in terms of the NHL standings via points percentage. It’s certainly a reality that Ruzika doesn’t fall that far. We’ll find out at 2 PM on Thursday.