Skip to content

So, what’s next for the Devils without Kovalchuk?

Jul 11, 2013, 10:32 PM EDT

Lou Lamoriello,Ilya Kovalchuk,  Jeff Vanderbeek i AP

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?”

As long-time Devils forward Patrik Elias told the Newark Star-Ledger, the “retired” 30-year-old leaves a crater in the roster thanks to his absence.

“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.

Potential gains

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

Mikhail Grabovski
Jaromir Jagr
Vinny Prospal
Mason Raymond
Damien Brunner

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.

 

Latest Posts
  1. Coyotes bring back Vermette with two-year deal

    Jul 1, 2015, 8:08 PM EDT

    2015 NHL Stanley Cup Final - Game Six Getty Images

    It’s reportedly worth $7.5 million.

  2. PHT’s 2015 free agent frenzy tracker

    Jul 1, 2015, 7:30 PM EDT

    Mike Green Getty Images

    All the signings from what promises to be a busy day.

  3. Habs sign Barberio to a one-year, two-way deal

    Jul 1, 2015, 6:45 PM EDT

    Mark Barberio Mark Barberio

    The contract pays the 25-year-old $600,000.

  4. Columbus character: Blue Jackets ink Gregory Campbell

    Jul 1, 2015, 6:34 PM EDT

    Gregory Campbell AP

    It’s reportedly two-years, $3 million.

  5. Report: Brassard should be ready for training camp after wrist surgery

    Jul 1, 2015, 6:16 PM EDT

    Derick Brassard AP

    The Rangers were a banged-up group in the playoffs.

  6. Preds trade goalie Hellberg to Rangers

    Jul 1, 2015, 6:09 PM EDT

    Nashville Predators v Los Angeles Kings Getty Images

    Was the first netminder taken at the 2011 NHL Entry Draft.

  7. Kessel trade shows Leafs are trying to ‘build this thing the right way’

    Jul 1, 2015, 4:53 PM EDT

    Official Announcement Of Mike Babcock As Toronto Maple Leafs Head Coach Getty Images

    “We are here to build a team that is capable of winning a Stanley Cup. There are no shortcuts to go around doing that.”

  8. B’s re-sign Spooner: two years, $1.9 million

    Jul 1, 2015, 4:06 PM EDT

    Boston Bruins v Winnipeg Jets Getty Images

    23-year-old had 18 points in 29 games last year.

  9. Green signs with Red Wings — 3 years, $18 million

    Jul 1, 2015, 4:05 PM EDT

    Mike Green Getty Images

    Moves on from Washington, the team that drafted him in 2004.

  10. ‘It’s hard to find players like Phil Kessel’

    Jul 1, 2015, 3:38 PM EDT

    Phil Kessel Getty Images

    Penguins GM considers his new winger in the same class as Alex Ovechkin and Steven Stamkos.

  11. After Preds buyout, Stalberg signs one-year, $1.1M deal with Rangers

    Jul 1, 2015, 3:19 PM EDT

    Viktor Stalberg #25 of the Nashville Predators warms up prior to a game against the Winnipeg Jets at Bridgestone Arena on October 24, 2013 in Nashville, Tennessee.
(October 23, 2013 - Source: Frederick Breedon/Getty Images North America) Getty Images

    29-year-old forward will look to get his career back on track.

  12. Roundup: Jackman to Preds, Moore to Devils, Parenteau to Leafs

    Jul 1, 2015, 3:04 PM EDT

    Barret Jackman

    Some smaller signings to pass your way…

  13. Saad ‘a bit shocked’ by trade, but ‘looking forward’ to joining Jackets

    Jul 1, 2015, 2:57 PM EDT

    Brandon Saad AP

    Still needs to sign a new deal, but Columbus will match any offer sheet.

Top 10 NHL Player Searches
  1. D. Hamilton (2434)
  2. M. Richards (2389)
  3. C. Talbot (2096)
  4. R. O'Reilly (2003)
  5. S. Gagner (1926)
  1. A. Niemi (1779)
  2. E. Etem (1749)
  3. R. Lehner (1733)
  4. M. Lucic (1646)
  5. C. Pronger (1551)