Jul 11, 2013, 10:32 PM EDT
However New Jersey Devils fans feel about Ilya Kovalchuk‘s departure, the fact is that he’s gone. This means New Jersey Devils GM Lou Lamoriello must answer the question: “What happens now?”
“It’s going to be interesting over the next couple of months to watch Lou figure out what to do. I’ve never seen anything like this in my 18 years here,” Elias said. “No question it’s going to affect the team. You can question his defensive play, but offensively Kovy was a key guy. He was putting up the numbers.”
This post takes an abbreviated look at the impact of this loss and a variety of factors for Lamoriello to consider.
What New Jersey loses
As Elias states, Kovalchuk is a rare scorer. He scored 417 goals and exactly a point-per-game in 816 career contests. Even the most optimistic Devils fan would admit that there isn’t a sniper on his level on the roster.
Kovalchuk logged substantial minutes, too. His 24:44 minutes per game ranked 17th overall in the NHL in 2013 and was the highest average of any forward. (No other forward ranked in the top 30.)
Also of note: the Devils forfeit their 2014 first-rounder because of the league punishments involving the team’s first attempted contract with Kovalchuk. That lost pick could sting quite a bit, especially since Hockey Prospectus ranks the team’s farm system as the third-worst in the NHL, with an especially “barren” forward group.
There are some bright sides, however. For the sake of simplicity, we’ll ignore the money-saving elements that could make more of a difference off the ice.
Most obviously, the Devils clear Kovalchuk’s $6.667 million cap hit, which was set to expire in 2024-25. His age and an injury-plagued 2013 season imply that he might be passing his peak years.
Cap Geek estimates that New Jersey’s cap space is now around $10.6 million, and while they’re unlikely to spend to the ceiling, they can use that money to re-sign Adam Henrique and test the free agent market a bit.
With that in mind, here are a few guys Lamoriello might look at. (Note: restricted free agents could theoretically be an option, but there are enough complications that we’ll just direct you to this listing.)
Some UFA targets
There’s also the possibility of nabbing someone via a trade – the name Ales Hemsky sprouted up, for one – so at least the Devils gain options and flexibility.
Now, would any of these options completely replace Kovalchuk? That’s highly unlikely, but Lamoriello might just make the best of this tough situation.
Apr 16, 2014, 10:39 AM EDT
Click inside to see…
Apr 16, 2014, 9:51 AM EDT
Tampa Bay’s top-six would have been in trouble without them.
Apr 16, 2014, 8:58 AM EDT
His solid regular season will be overshadowed by whatever he does in the playoffs.
Apr 16, 2014, 8:04 AM EDT
Previewing the first round.
Apr 16, 2014, 7:30 AM EDT
Going up against a pretty good team in L.A.
Apr 16, 2014, 7:00 AM EDT
Add yours in the comments section.
Apr 16, 2014, 1:14 AM EDT
Well, that’s good for St. Louis.
Apr 16, 2014, 12:15 AM EDT
Apr 15, 2014, 11:17 PM EDT
They’ve struggled after the Olympics.
Apr 15, 2014, 10:15 PM EDT
It was a tough season in Buffalo.
Apr 15, 2014, 9:31 PM EDT
“It puts a lot more pressure on everybody else,” says Nathan MacKinnon.
Apr 15, 2014, 8:25 PM EDT
After losing the No. 1 pick to Colorado last year.
Apr 15, 2014, 8:05 PM EDT
Anders Lindback gets the start.
Apr 15, 2014, 7:14 PM EDT
Didn’t practice Tuesday.
Apr 15, 2014, 6:55 PM EDT
Heck, will Steve Mason even be available?
Apr 15, 2014, 6:43 PM EDT
Just days after another group of ex-players filed last Thursday.
Apr 15, 2014, 5:31 PM EDT
What about the Stars over the Ducks?
Apr 15, 2014, 5:16 PM EDT
“He’s relentless,” according to Craig MacTavish.
Apr 15, 2014, 4:00 PM EDT
“I don’t think I can screw it up too bad whoever I choose.”
Apr 15, 2014, 3:13 PM EDT
The city has terminated the contract.
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