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.
Dec 8, 2013, 2:01 AM EST
Is the end coming for Jack Capuano?
Dec 8, 2013, 1:28 AM EST
This chapter in the Battle of Alberta goes to Calgary.
Dec 8, 2013, 1:05 AM EST
Three straight losses to Pacific Division giants.
Dec 8, 2013, 12:18 AM EST
Toronto outshot yet again.
Dec 7, 2013, 11:40 PM EST
Reported blow to the head.
Dec 7, 2013, 11:09 PM EST
Another dirty incident.
Dec 7, 2013, 10:51 PM EST
Happened on first shift.
Dec 7, 2013, 10:28 PM EST
‘I made a mistake’
Dec 7, 2013, 10:08 PM EST
Dec 7, 2013, 9:50 PM EST
Has a history with concussions.
Dec 7, 2013, 9:25 PM EST
Dec 7, 2013, 9:11 PM EST
Taken to hospital.
Dec 7, 2013, 8:51 PM EST
Also, his views on fighting.
Dec 7, 2013, 8:22 PM EST
Some good news.
Dec 7, 2013, 7:48 PM EST
Dec 7, 2013, 7:25 PM EST
Will not return.
Dec 7, 2013, 7:01 PM EST
Pair of forwards going to San Jose.
Dec 7, 2013, 6:31 PM EST
Dallas unsuccessful on that power play.
Dec 7, 2013, 5:55 PM EST
He finished the game with four points.
Dec 7, 2013, 5:28 PM EST
Good news for Nashville.
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- Shawn Thornton confirms hearing with NHL Department of Player Safety (Updayed) 31
- Video: Penguins’ Neal knees Bruins’ Marchand 58
- Penguins announce Brooks Orpik ‘alert and conscious’ (Updated) 32
- Shawn Thornton: ‘People could probably criticize that I’m a little too honorable’ 54
- Video: Penguins’ Orpik stretchered off ice; Bruins’ Thornton given match penalty 162
- Report: Salary cap ‘may be around’ $70 million next season 17
- TGIF: Five NHL games to watch this weekend 5
- Report: Laviolette a candidate to replace Capuano 25
- Sharks say Fleury was ‘shaky’ and ‘fighting it’ in 44-save victory 53
- Video: Penguins’ Orpik stretchered off ice; Bruins’ Thornton given match penalty (165)
- Bylsma: Sharks are NHL’s best, ‘with all due respect to Chicago’ (89)
- Flyers’ Couturier: ‘We’re starting to believe in ourselves’ (60)
- Video: Penguins’ Neal knees Bruins’ Marchand (58)
- Boychuk boarded by Pacioretty, taken off on stretcher (Update: has movement in extremities) (57)