With the New Jersey Devils already being the oldest team in the league (the only team whose average cracks 30), according to reports, it appears that they may be willing to go a little bit older, with a reclamation project of sorts, in signing free agent Alexei Yashin, a player who has actually been a free agent in NHL terms for the last five seasons, as he has been playing in Russia ever since he was bought out by his then-current team, the New York Islanders. Though his play was not terrible, he was accused of not trying his hardest on a perpetually mediocre squad, and because of the buyout, will actually still be receiving payment from the Islanders another next three seasons, to the sum of more than $2 million per year. With the Ottawa Senators earlier in his career, he had put up superstar numbers before leaving for Long Island due to a contract dispute. From there, his totals went nowhere but down, which led to his eventual demise. He is now 37 years old and coming off his worst Russian season since he embarked on the journey in 2007.
Christmas is only 35 days away, and fans of the New York Rangers have asked Santa Claus for Brad Richards. The Blueshirts barely snuck into the playoffs this season, mainly due to their anemic offense that was always a two periods late and a goal short. They rode the back of goaltender Henrik Lundqvist and a youthful defense for as long as they could, but it was not nearly enough. The team needed goals, plain and simple, or they needed passes going to someone who could get them goals, namely Marian Gab0rik, who disappeared more times than planes have gone down in the Bermuda Triangle.
Blame was placed on the offense in two directions: 1) Marian Gaborik was merely a flash in the pan, who came to Broadway, put up a 40+ goal season, got comfortable, and then went away, content with the salary he was given. He was no longer a big game player, no longer the superstar the Rangers gave a five-year/$37.5 million contract to in 2009. 2) Gaborik did not lose any skill himself, but rather, it was the fault of his teammates who could not get him the puck. Erik Christensen, Brandon Dubinsky, Vinny Prospal, and others whose names elude me at the present time all were blamed for not being a good enough set-up man.
Either way, Gaborik never had a star center in Minnesota (unless you think Pierre-Marc Bouchard is worth writing home about) but that did not stop him from putting up 42 goals in 07/08 and four other 30-goal seasons, all while never playing a full 82 games. So now, everyone is clamoring for Dallas Stars’ free agent center Brad Richards. He is going to be the answer and savior all in one shot. Why? I don’t know, you tell me.
This is where Rangers fans earn their paycheck, by going around the league every summer and seeing what players out there will instantly come here and save the day. Every season it is always a center, and while I agree that the Rangers desperately need a center (just like Christensen desperately needs a prescription for Cymbalta), I also want to make note of the high-priced free agents the Rangers have brought in over the years. Unless you are a fan of the way Chris Drury, Scott Gomez, and Wade Redden worked out, you will agree that when the Rangers throw the checkbook at somebody for how well they played in the past, it ultimately fails.
Brad Richards is a fantastic talent, don’t get me wrong. He has put up 91 points twice (Gomez put up 84 once) and has registered more than 40 assists in all but one season, which was when he was injured in 08/09. But why all of a sudden is he going to click with Gaborik and put up those points here in New York? Rangers fans have this Utopian idea in their heads more than half the time, one that includes severely over-rating our homegrown players and then automatically assuming every free agent in the world wants to play here. To go on a tangent for a second, Brandon Dubinsky and Ryan Callahan will be overpaid this summer, and neither will be worth the paycheck—trust me on that. But will you take off the blinders and see it too? There is not a player in this franchise (you read correctly, not one player) who should be considered untouchable in my eyes.
Now we must look at what price Richards can be had for. He clearly deserves between $6 and 7 million, easy. The Rangers currently have just over $18 million in cap space, with Dubinsky, Callahan, Brian Boyle, Artem Anisimov, Matt Gilroy, and Michael Sauer all restricted free agents. With those players eating up well over half of that, the Rangers will then need to replace Alex Frolov, whose money thankfully comes off the books, and then must reconsider bringing one (or none) of the pair of Ruslan Fedotenko and Vinny Prospal back—they should not re-sign both. Then there are defensemen Bryan McCabe and Steve Eminger also hitting free agency, and while I like McCabe’s potential as a leader and powerplay catalyst, unless he takes around $2 million for a one-year deal, I would not bring him back. As for Eminger, I am still on the fence about whether he should be brought back, but I am inclined to think no. So now where is this money for Richards going to come from, with most of it tied up in signing the Rangers’ own players? The logical answer would be to summon the ghost of Harry Houdini and make Chris Drury disappear (or they could just banish him to the minors or buy him out), or even find a way to trade Marian Gaborik, but something tells me that would defeat the purpose of signing Brad Richards, won’t it?
What Glen Sather and the Rangers have to do is get creative though trades, which is where the GM excels anyway. I would like to see what the return could be for a Gaborik deal, and although fans would worry about dealing him, if the Rangers can finish in 8th place and have a mediocre offense with him, they can finish in 8th place and have a mediocre offense without him. The Rangers must work the phones here, and find a way to get Gaborik’s contract off the books, and get some high to medium level talent in return, and maybe even some draft picks. With that money, perhaps they can then do what everyone really wants to see, and that is poach Zach Parise from the New Jersey Devils. But I will attach a disclaimer to that: do you really see Sather doing that to his old crony Lou Lamoriello? I don’t think so.
So, the answer to the question I initially asked is “No”, Brad Richards is not the answer. Sure he would be part of it, but unless the Rangers can solve all of it, I would not tie up a large amount of money like that in a 31-year old whose best days are truly behind him. I am tired of seeing the Rangers gamble with enormous contracts, thinking they are a quick fix when all they do is handicap the team further down the road. The Rangers need a center alright, but I would rather give Michal Handzus one year at $2.5 million and throw him next to Gaborik than lock up Richards for five to six years. The free agent market is drier than the Sahara Desert when it comes to centers this summer, but that doesn’t mean the Rangers need to settle for someone just because nobody else is there.
Think I’m joking about the laughably boring free agent market this year? Just click here to see for yourself.
This would be hilarious if it wasn’t dealing with a person’s health. Oh whatever, it’s still hilarious.
The franchise goaltender of the New York Islanders, Rick DiPietro, who is five years into his 15-year contract, is injured yet again, this time with an adductor injury. Yes, an adductor injury. What is that, you may be wondering? Well, according to Blueshirt Banter’s Jim Schmiedberg who did a Webster’s Dictionary check to see what this mysterious injury means, he found, “A muscle that draws a body part towards the median line.” In other words, even Webster’s doesn’t know what the hell it is.
After looking at some human anatomy diagrams, this appears to be a fancy way of saying that DiPietro has a pulled groin muscle—just the latest in a string of lower body injuries to Long Island’s marquee man. The Islanders could have at least showed us common courtesy by creating an injury that we all recognize, not by pulling a fancy-schmancy name out of a hat. He has played only two full seasons since inking the NHL’s longest contract ever, and in the last three seasons, including this one, he has played a grand total of 29 games. This proves that egregious, long-term deals are more trouble than they are worth, and never lead to anything but mockery and frustration. At least Lou Lamoriello paid attention to that.
With Dwayne Roloson traded to Tampa Bay last week, DiPietro is now the Islanders top-man again, that is, if he can stay healthy. In regards to the trade, I find it hard to believe that Roloson himself was not injured, because after hearing news of a trade away from that franchise, I would have jumped so high, my head would have smashed through the ceiling.
Speaking of hilarity, this was a screen-shot I took off of the Islanders website three weeks ago. I find it hard to not laugh while reading that description:
And so the saga of Rick DiPietro continues. They should be thankful to the New Jersey Devils, whose play has caused them to be the laughingstock of the league. Oh, who am I kidding, the Islanders are still funnier. I can only hope that the league will step in and put this franchise out of its misery. Kansas City is calling, boys!
I guess Wang’s idea of a lighthouse really is a bad idea. DiPietro would probably hurt himself climbing the stairs in the grand opening ceremony.
With the way fans of the New Jersey Devils have been acting this season, you would think they were Union Army soldiers in the middle of December 1862 with Ambrose Burnside at the helm. Okay, so Lamoriello and Lemaire are not too far off from that level of ineptitude, and that has caused fans to turn a blind eye to how terrible the team has been this season. We could sit here and joke around all day that the Devils never really had a large fan base to begin with, that aside from games against the New York Rangers and Philadelphia Flyers, no one bothers to risk their life trekking through the streets of Newark to that beacon of false hope known as the Prudential Center.
It’s a shame that with such a beautiful arena, the Devils have no one to sit inside and watch them play. They had all their glory at that crumbling piece of concrete and asbestos Continental Airlines Arena, which included three Stanley Cup victories, but at this new arena, they have only three playoff wins. If they would not mind, I would contact Mega Movers and see if they can put the stadium on a truck and haul it over to New York so the Rangers can use it. At least in their mediocrity over the years, there were still fans in the seats.
Even when the Rangers missed the playoffs for seven straight years, there was still a good amount of people who ventured down to Madison Square Garden. They might not have sold out, but they certainly had more than the average 7,000 degenerates who show up for Devils games. The reason I say that is because they are just not too bright; they seem concerned about other teams before their own. It is because they have an inferiority complex, knowing that their team is smack in the middle of the New York and Philadelphia markets. To the north is Rangers’ fans, to the south, Flyers’, and they just cannot get it through their thick skulls that no one cares about New Jersey Devils hockey. This drive to be recognized and make people think that the Devils fan base is wide-ranging is what prompted them to move to Newark in the first place, because fans could now take the train in from New York City, but what they did not realize is that there are no Devils fans in the City. Hell, there aren’t many Devils fans in New Jersey. But I applaud their management for being so considerate to Rangers fans for providing them with an easier way of transportation for three games a season.
This complex is what prompts them to chant “Rangers suck!” rather than “Let’s go Devils”. They whistle their stupid little tune and then all ten fans in attendance scream out against their neighboring rivals. This would not be so bad if it was just at Rangers-Devils games, but they do this 41 times a year. Every single game, old and young fans yell at the top of their lungs about how the Rangers suck. I guess they haven’t taken a look at the NHL standings in the recent months.
Needless to say, I am extremely happy with the way this season is evolving. The Devils sit in dead last place, the laughingstock of the entire NHL, made so by their undying summer quest of trying to lock up Ilya Kovalchuk for eternity. We have all been predicting this for many years, you know, and of course Devils’ fans wanted no part of the truth, because they thought Martin Brodeur was going to stay spry and agile into his 40′s. Now he’s 38 and he is starting to look like a 38-year-old. The unbelievable saves he made in years’ past are now easy goals, while even mediocre shots have been able to find a way past him—just ask Brian Boyle about that one.
The funny part is, it is entirely his fault. Rather than be a team player and focus on championships in later years, he has tried to play as many games as possible, only so he can own every NHL goaltending record. The Devils embarrassing playoff exits three seasons in a row, to the Rangers, Hurricanes, and Flyers have been proof of that, because Brodeur has been on of the main culprits, showing how tired he is. Looks like the Devils won’t have to worry about that this season.
Anyway, what angers me is that the fans are not sticking by to watch this disaster unfold. Even last night, at the cusp of yet another loss, there were no boo’s in the crowd. Oh silly me, that’s because there were more Rangers’ fans than Devils’ fans—poor example on my part. Instead of booing and showing frustration, fans are choosing just to not show up, but that really is not making an impact because they never really showed up to begin with. Even some of my friends, who have been fans their entire life are not even watching the games on TV. I asked one last night if he watched the game and he responded, “Oh, they were playing?” He wasn’t be sarcastic either. These fans genuinely don’t care anymore. It does not matter how bad your favorite team is, but to not turn on a rivalry game? That’s just pathetic. I have only one friend who watches them on a nightly basis. He sits in his recliner with his infant son on his lap, and a glass of hard liquor on the rocks in one hand, to try to teach his kid how to not play hockey. The glass just makes it more easier.
I tell my one friend all the time, who I always ask if he is watching, that it isn’t fair. Other teams have had seasons like this (cue the Flyers in 06/07) and fans actually stood by the team, even if they booed more than cheered. The Devils are going to be bad like this for the foreseeable future because they have no farm system, more importantly, no goaltender who can fill Brodeur’s shoes (before you bring up Jeff Frazee, let’s be real here), and half the aging veterans have no-trade-clauses. In other words: you’re stuck. The Devils enjoyed success for so long, which you could argue was false success because of their boring, trapping ways, but it was success nonetheless. Now they are having a bad season, their first since 1996 and fans can’t take it. They are showing what kind of fans they truly are, and what they have been all these years.
It’s a shame that the blame for this disastrous season of New Jersey Devils hockey will rest on the shoulders of a man who once was a fan favorite as a player for this team, one who scored nearly 350 goals while wearing the red, white, and black [and green]. John Maclean is in his first year as a head coach in the NHL, and he is finding out that games are not like the AHL, where it’s okay if the team loses, as long as the players learned something along the way. In the NHL, the big show, games are about winning—something the Devils have done only five times out of 20, and only once on home ice.
The blame can really be thrown in any direction: an aging Brodeur, a shoddy defense, an injury plagued start to the season, or perhaps even a cancerous acquisition in Ilya Kovalchuk, but nevertheless, it is John Maclean who will take the blame, for even though you can use any one of these aforementioned excuses, this team should not be this bad. They have not even been bad, that has been an understatement. Devils teams of the past who were based on 95% defense and 5% offense still found a way to average more than two goals a game, something that the Devils have not even come close to. They have scored a minuscule 36 goals in 20 games—it’s a miracle they have even won five games with that number. In return, they have also given up 65 goals, an amount that does not lead the league, but might as well since it is so disproportionate to their amount of goals scored.
Their goaltending, which has always been their one, true consistency, is in shambles. Martin Brodeur has been injured twice now, including this recent spell that will have him out the next two weeks. His stats this season are 4-10-1 with a goals against average of 2.74. I could jump on the wagon and say Brodeur was never that good to begin with, his numbers a product of a trap defense that had him facing only 20 shots a night, but for now, I will leave that alone as more attention does not need to be brought upon it from someone who is not a Devil’s fan—they can now see it for themselves. What does Brodeur have left to play for, exactly? He has three Stanley Cups, four Vezina’s, and almost every single goaltending record in the book. The drive towards those records reflected a player only playing for personal statistics found on the back of a hockey card, and not playing for his team, something that is so evident when looking at the amount of games he would play during the course of the season, an amount leaving him so tired that his team would be bounced out of the first round of the playoffs in embarrassing fashion. But that’s okay, he’s still the winningest goaltender in history. Keep telling yourself that, Marty.
Johan Hedburg, the Devil’s backup whose signing was praised as the next best thing since sliced bread, has been atrocious this season. His record is only 1-2-1, but his GAA is a bloated 4.53, and the Devils look like they will now be relying on call-up Mike McKenna to hold down the fort until Marty the Magnificent can make his gallant return. With no amazing prospects in the farm system, aside from Jeff Frazee who is said to be solid, the Devils are empty in the goaltending department, and should consider drafting one this season with their first round pick. But they will have to choose wisely, because one of the picks will be taken away by the NHL as punishment for the Kovalchuk fiasco.
As for Ilya Kovalchuk, I already said previously that the Devils had 27 games last season to see what he would bring, in terms of putting extra fans in the seats and developing chemistry. What they got was a point per game player, but nothing outstanding. He continued to be his same old self, being lazy on defense and pretending to not know what backchecking is. The truth is, to write about Ilya Kovalchuk would be cause for a separate article as his season has been a microcosm of the Devils: all promise, and all fail. Remember during the preseason when the Kovalchuk-Zajac-Parise line was tearing it up and scoring two goals a game? Remember when The Hockey News picked the Devils to finish in fifth? Parise’s injury cannot be why this season has gone by the wayside. Kovalchuk is a six-time 40 goal scorer—you don’t score 342 goals before reaching age 28 by being terrible. No, the blame will rest on the shoulders of coach John Maclean, who has not been able to motivate this team.
It is worthy of mention that last night, as the Devils were having yet another loss handed to them, Maclean could be standing on the bench with his arms crossed and shaking his head, the obvious frustration strewn all over his face. But unfortunately, shaking your head does not translate into anger with your players. I am not one to advocate a coach having a conniption, but if there is a team in the league that needs such a wake up call, it would be the Devils. Had it not been for the New York Islanders losing twelve in a row, and the Edmonton Oilers stuck in the middle of a rebuild-and-learn season, the Devils would be occupying last place all by themselves. But still, this team is not so bad that they should be playing like this.
Jacques Lemaire coached this team to their best regular season in franchise history last year, winning 48 games. What thanks does he get? He was booed out-of-town because fans were sick of defensive hockey. “Give us run and gun!” they said, begging Old Lou for an offensive minded coach, and this preseason, fans got their wish when the Maclean-lead Devils were tearing through opponents on the score sheet. But when the regular season started, that all went away. The team did have the offensive tools in Parise, Kovalchuk, Zajac, Elias, Rolston, and Arnott, but the defense was just not there to protect the team’s 38-year-old goaltender. The goals against mounted while the goals for went down, to compensate for the lost defense. Maclean is now left there with no options to go to. He cannot spark his superstar, because Kovalchuk is now in one of his frustrated moods, and he cannot wait for Parise to return, because it will be too late.
If the Devils want any hope at salvaging this season, they will need to fire John Maclean. When they get healthy, they are just one large winning streak away from coming close to contention, and then one more from surmounting the deficit they have created. It may sound crazy, but the Devils are not done yet—every season we sit back and say that this is the year they miss the playoffs, and every year they make it. This season we said nothing, and look at what has happened. The Devils are one team that can still salvage this season, but they will need a new coach. There are not many options out there, but I can think of one that absolutely makes sense, and that is Bob Hartley. The ex-Avalanche and Thrashers head coach has Stanley Cup experience, has coached Kovalchuk in the past, and most importantly, plays a defense-first style. Devils fans may shudder at that phrase “defense-first”, but look at where it got you: three Stanley Cups and the top of the league’s respectability (before angering the league with the Kovalchuk situation).
Had Jacques Lemaire not brought this franchise their first Stanley Cup back in 1995, fans of the New Jersey Devils would have thrown a ticker-tape parade when the defensive-minded coach announced that he would be retiring after last season. Lemaire, who became legendary for instituting the neutral zone trap, a smothering defensive system, took note that the style for which he became famous was no longer relevant in the new NHL.
But even as fans sat back and complained, the Devils made their way to yet another division title, playoff appearance and recorded the most wins in their franchise history with 48. Imagine that as a coach, leading your team to their best season ever and still the fans want to boo you out of town.
So desperate for a change of style were the Devils that they did something Lou Lamoriello had never done in his twenty-plus years of being a General Manager—do something stupid. It may sound ridiculous, but any way one spins it, the Ilya Kovalchuk contract is going to bog down this team for the immediate future. Don’t believe me? Check out the roster for the Devils game against the Penguins on October 11, when they dressed only three forward lines. They did this because they had injuries and could not afford to call anyone up. The NHL even investigated it because it was against the CBA, which stated that a team cannot play unless they have a minimum amount of players.
Conveniently, higher paid players Brian Rolston and Bryce Salvador are injured, so the Devils barely escape the claws of salary cap death early on this season.
Still, it was all worth it, right? Kovalchuk, the two-time fifty goal scorer was going to put fans in the seats, set career highs, and get rid of those two evil words forever associated with New Jersey Devils hockey…defense first!
Getting back to why this move was just plain stupid (putting aside the 15 year part, that is just laughable), the Devils had 27 games last season to see what Kovalchuk would bring. The team did not experience any dramatic increase in attendance (Newark is still Newark), and the Devils were not much better with him than without him. Sure he scored a point per game while he was here, but points are not all that matter. Kovalchuk is everything the Devils have not been in their 28 year existence. He’s flashy, offensive minded, careless on defense, not a terrific teammate, and has never done anything in the playoffs (not really his fault when you consider the team he played for prior).
The best part is he loves to overstay his shifts. This is important because we can all look back at a time when the Devils rolled four lines equally, sometimes with the fourth line getting more than the first, especially if the team was winning and they went into trap mode. During the end of last season and playoffs, if the Devils had a four-minute powerplay, he would be out there the entire time and look lethargic by the time it was over. The reason why this is important is because what effect will this all have on Zach Parise?
Before Kovalchuk’s acquisition last season, Parise saw that he had only one full season in front of him before reaching restricted free agency. As this team’s franchise player, he was going to make out like a bandit, sign a long term deal, and be content with the fact that the Devils were his team. But now the Devils will never be his team, because of Kovalchuk. Just think, you were going to be the team’s go-to guy, the player everyone looks to for the clutch goal late in the game—the hero, and now, that is all gone. No matter what kind of contract he signs, he cannot out-wait Kovalchuk because of the immensity of that contract.
Other teams may recognize this and try to poach Parise next season, and given the Devils financial situation, they may not be able to retain him. Either that or Parise signs a short term deal and then bolts when he hits unrestricted free agency. Either way, I do not see Parise being on this team a four years from now. You may think that players can put aside their differences and harmoniously play together on the ice, and be friends in the locker room, but more often than not, that is not the case. After all, hockey players are people too.
So now the Devils are six games into their new era, with the gun-slinging John Maclean as their head coach. The Devils began the season playing what was probably the most fast-paced hockey in the franchise’s history, and where did it get them? They lost a close one in overtime 4-3 to Dallas on opening night, got embarrassed in Washington 7-2 causing Brodeur to get pulled, lost to Pittsburgh 3-1 when they dressed only three forward lines, tightened up for a 1-0 win in Buffalo, fell to Colorado 3-2, and last night, played well in the first period to take a 1-0 lead on the Bruins before giving up four goals in the second to lose 4-1.
The Devils are not sacrificing defense for offense here, they are simply sacrificing defense. One could excuse the poor performance on a new system, if the team was actually scoring. But they have only scored 10 goals in six games, and have allowed 21. Martin Brodeur has looked awful, and he has been the goalie of record for all six games. Backup Johan Hedburg, who relieved Brodeur in the second period of the Washington game, did not look to hot himself—he allowed a goal on the first shot he saw and gave up another one shortly after.
It is because of all this that I give John Maclean until the end of October before he is reverting the team back to their old ways. Perhaps not a trap, but a defensive minded system. Lamoriello will insist on it because I have no doubt that he was not the one behind Kovalchuk, and wants to say, “I told you so.” to Jeff Vanderbeek. Brodeur, meanwhile, will insist on it because all he cares about now are what the stats will look like on the back of his hockey card. Should one look out of place towards the end of his career, we may have a catastrophe on our hands. That and the fact that Brodeur just cannot handle the work load he normally gets. Let’s face it, the 77 games he appeared in was the Devils post-season death sentence last year, but he still was playing behind a trap defense, and did not get as much work as other goaltenders in the league. Now he is going to want to play the same number of games, but because he will now have to face scoring chances like a real goalie, he will whine until the Devils change their system.
If John Maclean does not change this Devils style back to defense in the next two weeks, he will not be coaching this team much longer.
Just a quick post on yet another boring day in this long off-season…
For two weeks, the New Jersey Devils sat around with nothing to do, after Kovalchuk’s contract was rejected by the NHL and then sorted through by an arbitrator. During this time you would think that the Devils would have been busy getting a backup plan ready in case the contract was officially rejected after the NHLPA filed their grievance, but instead, they did not, and now we are three days removed from that decision, and no closer to a Kovalchuk contract.
Lou Lamoriello is a genius of a GM and made it clear that although he liked having Kovalchuk, he was not the tour-de-force behind handing him that immense contract. That said, could it be that the Devils do not want to give in and have this new contract eat up such a large cap hit?
The Devils are currently working on a new deal, according to various hockey sources on Twitter, but for some reason I just do not buy it. They had all this time to come up with Plan B, even Plans C, D, and E, but instead they did absolutely nothing. That seems very un-Devil like, and something that would not happen under the watchful eye of Lou Lamoriello.
And to be honest, does Kovalchuk really love New Jersey that much? This is not a suggestion that he would like New York or Los Angeles better, but it took him nearly three weeks to come to an agreement with New Jersey, and if I wanted to sign some place wholeheartedly, I would have been on the phone in the last two weeks so that as soon as the first contract got rejected, I could immediately be signed to a new one.
This is all speculation, but something now tells me that Kovalchuk won’t end up in New Jersey after all, and believe it or not, all Devils fans wouldn’t really be too angry about that.
The NHL let the Marian Hossa, Henrik Zetterberg, and Johan Franzen contracts (among others) slide. Three contracts that were brutally, in-your-face, saying “Screw you, we’re gonna cheat the cap.”
Today the NHL grew a pair and rejected the contract of Ilya Kovalchuk signing with the New Jersey Devils for 17 years and $102 million. This move was circumventing the salary cap in such a way that they just had to come in and end the nonsense. It is one thing to lock a player up, but to sign him until his 44th birthday? Come on. Gary Bettman is dumb, but he’s not that dumb.
Kovalchuk technically becomes a free agent again, but he will sign with the Devils. Only problem is, just after a nice happy press conference at the Prudential Center this morning, the Devils have to draw up a new game-plan, one that will have to deal with the 40-goal scorer having a cap hit of above $6 million.
The original cap hit would have made it easy for the Devils to retain RFA Zach Parise next season, but a new deal will in all likelihood make the new hit in the neighborhood of what we were all expecting, somewhere between $7-8 million.
Lou Lamoriello thought he cheated the system, but he got nailed for it. These are two events never before seen in the NHL before, first with the contract, then the rejection.
We will now anxiously await for comments from both parties, but they better get the bleep button ready when they talk to Lamoriello.
Perhaps the dignity of the NHL, which I thought had long vanished, is still hanging around. Once again, bravo to the NHL.
According to a very reliable source out of Russia, Dmitry Chesnokov, the New Jersey Devils have signed Ilya Kovalchuk to a 17 year deal worth $102 million. The salary cap hit for this deal will be $6 million. Congratulations to Lou Lamoriello for being able to land a 40-goal scorer for such a low amount.
However, the means of getting a cap hit that low should be illegal.
We saw it last year with Marian Hossa getting a 12 year deal from the Blackhawks to soften the cap hit to a very manageable $5.233 million. This deal will pay him $7.9 million for seven years, $4 million for the next one, $1 million for the next two, and then $750,000 for the final two years.
The Blackhawks were under investigation by the NHL because word leaked that they flat-out told Hossa he could retire before the contract expired so that they would save money in those final years.
The Devils have just doled out the longest contract in NHL history, topping only Rick DiPietro’s 15 year deal with the Islanders (how’s that working out for them?). This contract will take Kovalchuk until he turns 44 years old, but don’t think for a second he is going to play that long. He will be filthy rich and retire well before then.
According to the same source as above, the deal will pay Kovalchuk $10 million for the first eight years and $7.5 each for the next two. This means $95 million will be paid out in the first ten years, so Kovalchuk will then be making only $1 million each for the last seven years of his deal; years that he may not even play if he retires at 37, an age around where players call it quits.
This is not an attack on the Devils, but for the NHL to allow such ridiculous contracts to be signed. These are not done to lock up players long-term, but to cheat the system and lower cap hits. When the new CBA is up for discussion, this will surely be a burning-hot topic amongst league GM’s. Only question is, for teams that have already done this, will they be grandfathered in under the new terms? One would unfortunately think so.
Just a very short post as we do not yet know the details of how long the contract is and how much money he will recieve.
The three week long saga is finally over and the Devils who had the “inside track” all along come through and sign Ilya Kovalchuk. No one is certain what the exact contract is but some are speculating that it is in fact the rumored 17 year deal from last week. Others are saying it is more around 7 years, which would be more logical.
The Devils are taking a huge risk here, because their cap situation will become even tighter due to this signing, and Zach Parise is up for restricted free agency next summer. This could have been Lamoriello’s way of showing that they are trusting the franchise to Kovalchuk, rather than their home-grown fan favorite.
As I am typing this, a Tweet was just posted by Eric Duhatshek, a sports writer for the Globe & Mail. He writes:
“Kovalchuk is 27; a 17-year deal, if correct, takes him to age 44, and the end of 2026-27 season; anyone think he’ll still be playing then?”
And this comes from a very reliable source in Russia, Dmitry Chesnokov:
“Kovalchuk’s deal is in excess of $100 million for 17 years. I am hearing out of Russia.”
It will be interesting to see what the final deal is, and hopefully we will have this information shortly. Please keep checking back.