New Jersey Devils left-winger Brian Rolston wasn't surprised to hear that general manager Lou Lamoriello placed him on waivers.
"It's not a huge surprise," he said to Tom Gulitti of the Bergen Record. "Obviously. I didn't know it was going to happen today, but I can't say it's a surprise."
After signing Ilya Kovalchuk to a 15-year, $100 million contract in early September, the Devils faced a difficult cap situation. Injuries helped ease the burden, but Lamoriello needed to move salary. The anticipation of someone moving lessened the surprise for Rolston.
"We all know our whole team has been waiting for something to happen," Rolston said to Gulitti. "We're in a situation that with the way the season has been going, it can't really be a surprise."
Rolston has underperformed since signing a four-year, $20.25 million contract with the Devils on July 1, 2008. The left-winger, who recorded three straight 30-plus goal seasons with the Minnesota Wild, scored 15 in his first year with the team and 20 last season.
Health has also been an issue. During his first season, Rolston missed 17 games with a high ankle sprain. He missed 14 games this season with a sports hernia.
Lamoriello hasn't informed Rolston on his immediate future. If Rolston goes unclaimed by the Wednesday at noon, the Devils can either assign the left-winger to their AHL affiliate in Albany or bring him through re-entry waivers. If Rolston remains in the minors, the Devils still need to pay his $5.062 million salary. Re-entry waivers would allow any team in the league to acquire Rolston for half his salary.
Rolston didn't take the move personally.
"I've been in this league a long time," he said to Gulitti. "Is it disappointing to be placed on waivers? I suppose it is. But I'm not overly disappointed. This could be an opportunity to play somewhere else. If not, I may be playing for the Devils tomorrow night (against Phoenix)."