Skip to content

Two silver linings for Devils in Kovalchuk retirement

Jul 11, 2013, 4:42 PM EDT

Ilya Kovalchuk AP

It’s not going to be easy for the New Jersey Devils to replace Ilya Kovalchuk in the wake of his shocking retirement.

One of the game’s top snipers, Kovalchuk finished his NHL career with 417 goals in 816 games for New Jersey and Atlanta.

But if you’re a Devils fan, here are two potential silver linings:

1. Kovalchuk is 30 years old. Lately, injuries were starting to become an issue. In 2013, he only scored 11 goals in 37 games. Wear and tear is a real factor in the NHL; for the most part, it’s a young man’s league. (Not everyone is Teemu Selanne or Nicklas Lidstrom.) Kovalchuk still has a few good years left in him, for sure. But his days of scoring 50 goals were probably over.

2. The cap recapture penalty that’s estimated at $250,000 annually through 2024-25 would’ve been much harsher if Kovalchuk had waited a few more years to walk away. For example, if he’d have left after the 2017-18 season (when $79 million of the $100 million contract had been paid out, per CapGeek), the penalty would’ve been an annual charge of around $3.7 million for seven seasons.

  1. scoops1 - Jul 11, 2013 at 4:45 PM

    no silver linings on this one….Kovy pulled a DB move

    • 950003cups - Jul 11, 2013 at 5:32 PM

      He can make it up to us by taking Volchenkov with him

      • 950003cups - Jul 11, 2013 at 5:46 PM

        Brent Sutter = Home sick?
        Parise = Home sick?
        Clarkson = Home sick?
        Kovalchuk = Home sick?

        This wreaks of nothing more than GREED

        Kovalchuk, Parise, and Clarkson all “went home” and received large sums of cash.

      • 950003cups - Jul 11, 2013 at 6:11 PM

        Who’s the owner of the team
        That’s made everyone leave
        J-E-F-F V-A-N D-E-R-B-E-E-K
        Hey there, Why there, Dont go there
        You’re not liked as you can see
        J-E-F-F V-A-N D-E-R-B-E-E-K

      • credible316 - Jul 11, 2013 at 6:37 PM

        Brent Sutter = Home sick?
        Parise = Home sick?
        Clarkson = Home sick?
        Kovalchuk = Home sick?

        This wreaks of nothing more than GREED

        Kovalchuk, Parise, and Clarkson all “went home” and received large sums of cash.

        Another thing these guys have in common is that they were all sick of New Jersey!!

    • 950003cups - Jul 11, 2013 at 6:20 PM

  2. narfmoo12 - Jul 11, 2013 at 4:48 PM

    Yeah! It’s a good thing he retired! A year too late to sign Parise, and a week too late to sign any of the top free agents to replace him. And now they lose a top 5 pick next summer instead of either the 29th pick or 9th pick.

  3. 950003cups - Jul 11, 2013 at 4:50 PM

    Silver lining my ass!!

    We are officially SCREWED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    We don’t have a single bonafide shooter on the team. It’s a terrible time for this to happen. So in 2 consecutive years we lose Parise and Kovalchuk.

    I want Vanderbeek and his broke ass on the next flight out of NJ!!!!

    • credible316 - Jul 11, 2013 at 5:20 PM

      Don’t forget about Marty next year!

      • credible316 - Jul 11, 2013 at 5:24 PM

        and that 1st rounder!

    • isithockeyseasonyet - Jul 11, 2013 at 6:22 PM

      And clarkson

  4. 19to77 - Jul 11, 2013 at 4:50 PM

    1. The KHL is going to hand him a blank cheque and tell him to use his imagination.
    2. See above.

  5. flyeredup202 - Jul 11, 2013 at 4:52 PM

    Narfmoo, you hit my point exactly. Thats what makes this a DB move, if he does this 2 weeks ago the devils could have been players at the start of Freeagency. Now they have to look at the scrubs left and pray they can find a few diamonds out of alot ROUGH players. I am a flyers Fan but this blows for the devils, it blows that in a week or so he will anounce he will be playing for KHL team and making more money and that just proves he has no class. He thanks the Fans and the team for being so great to him, how about you repay that class and honor your CONTRACT and play the game. Mind Blown on this one…..

    • 950003cups - Jul 11, 2013 at 5:00 PM

      He’s not gonna get paid in the KHL. One bad season and they’ll suddenly “find” cocaine in his locker, and contract is null and void. Just ask John Grahame.

    • hockeyflow33 - Jul 11, 2013 at 8:22 PM

      Jagr is still out there

  6. chazxcore - Jul 11, 2013 at 4:53 PM

    I had to go to a number of sites to actually believe this is true. Wow. I am in shock. I generally respect moves by players for their families or even their bodies but man, way to screw your team and the organization that gave you faith and gave you that monster contract.

  7. jb8383 - Jul 11, 2013 at 4:55 PM

    We’re screwed. Tom Gulitti ‏@TGfireandice The Devils put their eggs in Kovalchuk’s basket in 2010 and he broke them all today.

  8. jb1024 - Jul 11, 2013 at 4:56 PM

    3rd silver lining: Plenty of room to sign Jagr

    • chazxcore - Jul 11, 2013 at 5:05 PM

      Why would Jagr go to a team that doesnt have a shot to win the cup this year or next?

  9. bobhpine - Jul 11, 2013 at 4:58 PM

    I don’t understand all the bellyaching out of New Jersey. Today is a great day for the Devils. That contract was one of the most onerous in the league and the Devils are out from under it. Plus, who wants a 30 year old man with homesickness on their team? Stop whining.

    • sunderlanding - Jul 11, 2013 at 5:21 PM

      He’s a proven 30 goal scorer. Who’s going to fill that void? Plus they loose their draft pick, and cap space, and we all know this isn’t a cap team, so every dollar is important. There is a reason they are whining. If I were a Devils fan I’d be pissed as well.

      • kaptaanamerica - Jul 11, 2013 at 10:45 PM

        Proven fifty goal scorer… let’s get it straight the guy was productive and dangerous all the time.he had five seasons left in him at least.

      • sunderlanding - Jul 12, 2013 at 4:14 PM

        He hit 50, but in my mind “proven” implies he’ll be doing at least that every year.

  10. ethanmacleod1685 - Jul 11, 2013 at 5:00 PM

    He could have at least announced it a week earlier lol, big FAs are gone now trololololololol

    • stakex - Jul 11, 2013 at 6:46 PM

      Sounds like the Devils knew this was coming for a while now. I’m sure they are not as surprised today as everyone else is.

  11. northstarsmitty - Jul 11, 2013 at 5:06 PM

    As Michael Russo from MN Star Tribune put it: “The Devils spent an entire summer trying to figure out how to give Illya a legal contract instead of giving Parise a long term contract extension.” 2 summers later, both are gone. No one is saying it yet, but this is awful management by the Devils, which I feel bad for even saying. Why dish out a splurging contract to an aging scorer (who was apparently on the fence to leave for Russia anyways at the time) and not try and extend the leader of your team in the after math of a Stanley Cup run? That will haunt Devils fans for decades. As a Wild fan, I will take a bow

    • 950003cups - Jul 11, 2013 at 5:17 PM

      As a Wild fan, you’re still stupid. The aftermath (not after math) of the Stanley Cup run was after Leipold had tampered with a signed player. If you expect the intelligent side of the country to believe that in roughly 72 hours the Wild offered a $98,000,000 lifetime contract to Parise, which was then countered by a large bonus demand, which was then discussed and OK’d by the owners, which then was re-countered with a demand for an additional matching contract for Suter, which was also discussed with management. To which BOTH players agreed and signed. All in 72 hours?

      That was tampering.

      As for Kovalchuk. Who knows

      • rsmaggiemae - Jul 12, 2013 at 1:44 PM

        Parise and Suter just wanted to come back home as the song says
        ‘There’s no place like home”
        They were both offered more money by Detroit and Philly but really wanted to come back to the Midwest/

    • map422 - Jul 11, 2013 at 5:38 PM

      I don’t think it’s fair to lay all the blame on not locking Zach Parise up to a long term deal on management. Parise never had any serious intention of re-signing long term in NJ before he hit UFA. He wanted to test the market and probably figured that the Wild would be interested in bringing him back home. The Devils couldn’t compete with his Minnesota roots, and his desire to play with Suter (because Suter had already turned down the Devils). It would have taken an equally absurd contract (like the Kovy deal) to get him to come back to NJ, and in that scenario, the team would have two albatross contracts to deal with for fifteen years instead of one. IMO, the Kovy deal was more the financially inept owner Vanderbeek insisting on making a splash with a superstar name, and more or less ordering Lou to do it. As a Devils fan, today hurts, but I believe it will prove to be a blessing in the future.

  12. 950003cups - Jul 11, 2013 at 5:09 PM

    SKA St Petersberg just announced his signing. It’ll be made official tomorrow

    • 19to77 - Jul 11, 2013 at 6:13 PM

      Riiiiight on schedule. I figured the reason he waited ’till after the FA window was because he didn’t have an offer yet. Selfish dick.

  13. jb8383 - Jul 11, 2013 at 5:10 PM

    Tom Gulitti ‏@TGfireandice RT @dchesnokov: SKA will announce Kovalchuk’s signing tomorrow, per @plysenkov, wanted to do it today.

  14. flydommo - Jul 11, 2013 at 5:10 PM

    He went to North America as a very young man and wants to go back to his native land. I can understand that. The time he made this decision, however, undoubtedly bite the Devils Franchise, which seems to have ist best days behind them after the Parise fiasco and this debacle.

  15. modellforprez - Jul 11, 2013 at 5:15 PM

    the silver lining playbook says the only good lining is that you “the owner/ team” will save how many millions

  16. crazemastercraze - Jul 11, 2013 at 5:15 PM

    Not good enough. He screwed us by waiting until after the draft and the first few days of free agency. He just stabbed this team in the back 800,000 times

    • stakex - Jul 11, 2013 at 6:47 PM

      “After many conversations with Ilya over the past year on his desire to retire from the National Hockey League, Ilya’s decision became official today,” said Lamoriello

      That’s from the main story about this. The Devils knew he was going to walk away before today…. today was just the announcement.

  17. 950003cups - Jul 11, 2013 at 5:18 PM

    Bottom line, the Devils now officially suck…

  18. jernster21 - Jul 11, 2013 at 5:21 PM

    Well that was nice if him to wait till Parise and Clarkson signed elsewhere. At least they have Schneider now!

  19. colby7 - Jul 11, 2013 at 5:26 PM

    This is starting to stink of collusion. Lamorello wanted out of that deal with the least penalties, so they worked this out.

  20. jacketsfan7 - Jul 11, 2013 at 5:43 PM

    This is where I think Dainus Zubrus and Travis zajac need to step up there game.

  21. oquintero99 - Jul 11, 2013 at 5:48 PM

    Greg from Puck Daddy just reported this:

    Ilya Kovalchuk will join SKA, could earn $20 million per season: Report

    • oquintero99 - Jul 11, 2013 at 5:48 PM

  22. dezolationangel - Jul 11, 2013 at 5:50 PM

    Wouldn’t be surprised if Kovy was on the fence and Lou pushed him to the Russian side. With his track record and now money to spend wisely the Devils will be fine in the long run. They have a proven system that works.

    • colby7 - Jul 11, 2013 at 6:18 PM

      Not to mention possible under the table money from the money tree AKA St Petersburgh.

      Something to soften the blow and smooth relations for a banrupt team and an offended league?

  23. crazemastercraze - Jul 11, 2013 at 5:52 PM

    It all comes down to not paying taxes. If he had been honest about it, no prob. But he’s going to give us some bs about wanting to go back home to crumbling Russia.

    That’s why he’s a scum bag

  24. nyrnashty - Jul 11, 2013 at 6:02 PM

    I feel bad for the Devils. They lost 10,11,14 1st rounders and Zach Parise for a guy who retired!!!

  25. flyerfan2083 - Jul 11, 2013 at 6:16 PM

    So he’s already signing with a khl team….how is this not a clear violation of the non-poaching agreement between the NHL and KHL?

    • lionstigersandwingsohmy - Jul 11, 2013 at 9:07 PM

      Sounds like the devils are on board with this to me, voiding the contract now, instead of when he fails to show up at camp. If the devils wanted to raise a fuss, Kovy would be out of the olympics. My guess is he plays in 2014.

  26. icelovinbrotha215 - Jul 11, 2013 at 6:24 PM

    This article is like telling someone who just totaled a brand new BMW, ‘At least now you can buy an Audi or a Benz.’

  27. bullwinkle88 - Jul 11, 2013 at 6:26 PM

    Lamorello is probably on the phone to Darcy Regier as we speak, negotiating for Vanek.

    Make him pay Darcy!

  28. aldog83 - Jul 11, 2013 at 6:32 PM


    Glad he bailed out on LA Kings and signed in NJ!

    What a punk.

    Sorry Devils fans.

    Not cool.

    You guys still have multiple Stanley Cups.

    Kovulchuk will stay at ZERO!

  29. hockeyfan28 - Jul 11, 2013 at 7:30 PM

    Man always respected the Devils and their ability to build a consistent winner but there is no way around the fact they are in a stacked division and look like they are easily the worst team

  30. mrpinkca - Jul 11, 2013 at 8:28 PM

    This is a shame. Kovalchuk is a really, really, really good player, and I’m going to miss seeing him in the NHL.

  31. chrisk61 - Jul 12, 2013 at 12:18 AM

    go eat sardines in vladivostok, you freakin commie. and lie in the snow at night in -20 degree weather in your parka, with the other scumbag russian bryzgalov, and stare at the stars and contemplate your US wealth-driven existence.

Top 10 NHL Player Searches
  1. P. Kessel (1723)
  2. P. Kane (1280)
  3. P. Datsyuk (1127)
  4. S. Matthias (1088)
  5. M. Giordano (991)