Clarkson is available

ree agency has been more bitter than sweet for the Devils and general manager Lou Lamoriello over the years. While Ilya Kovalchuk re-signed in 2010 and Patrik Elias will be staying this year, Scott Niedermayer, Zach Parise and Brian Gionta have all signed elsewhere with the Devils getting nothing in return.

It could be happening again with David Clarkson, who rejected a contract offer from the Devils on Sunday. The right winger appears headed for unrestricted free agency.

Clarkson, 29, who has played his entire NHL career with the Devils, could start listening to offers from other teams at 12:01 this morning. Contracts cannot be signed until noon Friday.

"We made a substantial offer," Lamoriello said. "You can only do so much."

"We have no other choice right now," Clarkson’s agent, Pat Morris, said yesterday. "On Sunday at the draft, the day David’s contract expired, we received a proposal from Lou. Unfortunately it did not result in a contract."

Between noon today and the start of Friday’s free agent signing period, players are allowed talk to other clubs to determine the level of interest. Morris said Clarkson has not ruled out re-signing with the Devils, but it would take a better offer from Lamoriello to make that happen.

"We reviewed the proposal and let Lou know what we thought of it. The next step has to come from the Devils. We see no need to call (Lamoriello)," Morris said.

"If David went elsewhere, he’d be added to a long list of players who left the Devils with no compensation. He’d join Zach Parise, Alexander Mogilny, Scott Niedermayer, Brian Gionta, Paul Martin, Scott Gomez ..."

Lamoriello indicated he planned to continue talking to Morris, but whether another offer is forthcoming is questionable.

Morris said he believes the Devils will come back with a new proposal before Friday.

"Nothing would surprise me," the agent said. "Lou always tries to the end. In my experience, the answer would be yes."

As time passed without an offer from the Devils, Clarkson wondered if the team’s financial difficulties might be a factor. Owner Jeff Vanderbeek has been involved in a financial restructuring for control of the club.

"There were no preconceived notions, but we thought with the economic peril of New Jersey there might not be a proposal," Morris said. "We finally had one after David’s contract exprired."

Clarkson earned $3 million last season, the final year on a three-year deal that broke down to a $2.67 million cap hit.

After scoring 30 goals in 2011-12, he came back with 15 goals in the lockout-shortened 48-game 2012-13 season. Those numbers, along with the Toronto native’s physical style, likely will generate considerable outside interest.

But the Devils remain in the picture and can still sign Clarkson before other teams get a chance.

"Correct. When you play a whole career in a place, there is a strong connection," Morris said. "We’ve got an open mind with New Jersey and we’ve got an open mind with other NHL clubs. New Jersey is facing life without David. They’re a lot better team with David on it."

The same certainly could’ve been said for Niedermayer, Parise and even Bobby Holik.

Notes: The Devils finalized a two-year contract with defenseman Peter Harrold. ... Lamoriello said he plans to speak with Johan Hedberg this morning about the goalie’s future.

Looks like forward David Clarkson is getting ready to hear offers from around the NHL. Tom Gulitti of Fire&Ice reports the 29-year-old forward rejected the New Jersey Devils' latest proposal in regards to a new deal.