Ilya Kovalchuk: No More New Jerseys

17 years from now I expect things to be very different.  I’ll probably be married with a showcase wife and the showcase home to go along with it.  Life will be good, I can already see it…36 years old, writing the Sunday Scoop in my pool, lounging back while enjoying a nice brew or two (or three).  From now until that time there will be thousands of changes, new faces and challenges, but what I do know is that Ilya Kovalchuk could still be in the black and red jerseys of (not Miroslav) Satan’s Snipers AKA the New Jersey Devils.

Sure, the kid can light the lamp, but don’t you think this contract is obscene?  A career ending contract with a team he played only 27 regular season games for and a failed playoff run which was halted in the first round by the #7 seed Philadelphia Flyers.  It seems a bit premature to me, I would have loved to see Kovy end up in Los Angeles, the Kings would have been the team to beat if they were to acquire the Russian sniper to play alongside with Anze Kopitar.  The Devils have plenty of talent with Parise, Zajac, Rolston, Elias, Arnott, Langenbrunner and a new look defence featuring the likes of Anton Volchenkov, Henrik Tallinder, Andy Greene and Bryce Salvador.  Sure, that doesn’t sound as good as Nieds and Scotty Stevens, but the offence of this stacked team should help balance the scale.

People have been saying for awhile that Kovalchuk can’t win.  He may have scored boatloads of goals in Atlanta, and even when they had him and Heatley, the team couldn’t win.  With Hossa paired with Ilya the Thrashers were able to make it to the playoffs once, where they were swept in the first round.  A lot of pressure will be on #17 to win a cup immediately, and if he doesn’t many will keep saying that Ilya is overrated.  There’s a difference from a player like Sundin (who never won a cup as well).  Although Mats was provided with some decent weapons over the years (Mogilny, Roberts, Tucker, Nolan, etc) he was never able to play with so many great players in their prime in one season.

In order for the Devs to get full value of Ilya they must address a key area so they can stay dominant in the Eastern Conference.  Martin Brodeur is arguably the best goalie to ever play the game, but realistically he is 38 years old and how many more years can the guy stand on his head for?  With possibly the worst d-core he’s had in his entire career, is it possible that New Jersey should have been focusing on making their defence better rather then signing Kovulchuk?  It’s definitely interesting and we’ll see how the future pans out.

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