Jul 11, 2013, 10:32 PM EST
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.
Jan 25, 2015, 11:54 AM EST
Maybe we should ease up on the guy.
Jan 25, 2015, 10:50 AM EST
A rare opportunity sidetracked by his groin injury.
Jan 25, 2015, 9:30 AM EST
It sounds like he won’t face the same headaches as others who skipped the event.
Jan 24, 2015, 10:03 PM EST
See you all tomorrow.
Jan 24, 2015, 9:41 PM EST
Florida’s All-Star goalie never gave up on it.
Jan 24, 2015, 9:14 PM EST
Just 0.3 away from Zdeno Chara’s all-time record.
Jan 24, 2015, 9:09 PM EST
Jan 24, 2015, 8:34 PM EST
Team Foligno running away with this.
Jan 24, 2015, 8:21 PM EST
That’s an all-time screencap right there.
Jan 24, 2015, 7:55 PM EST
Team Foligno sweeps first competition.
Jan 24, 2015, 7:09 PM EST
Johnny Hockey gets the nod.
Jan 24, 2015, 6:20 PM EST
Has gone from forward to defense, back to forward and back to defense.
Jan 24, 2015, 5:30 PM EST
He’s ranked fourth in Central Scouting’s mid-term rankings.
Jan 24, 2015, 5:23 PM EST
Bragging rights on the line.
Jan 24, 2015, 5:21 PM EST
And what will the team look like?
Jan 24, 2015, 4:55 PM EST
It’s expected to be around $71.6 million to $72.2 million for the 2015-16 season.
Jan 24, 2015, 4:09 PM EST
Slovenia’s (and Los Angeles’) Anze Kopitar figures to play a prominent role.
Jan 24, 2015, 4:02 PM EST
Will fans care? Is it fair?
Jan 24, 2015, 2:34 PM EST
“People are intrigued by this. There are going to be great storylines.”
Jan 24, 2015, 2:15 PM EST
Gillette Stadium, TCF Bank Stadium and Coors Field will play hosts
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