When I woke up on Monday morning I was pretty convinced that Ilya Kovalchuk was going to sign with the Los Angeles Kings and I was ok with that. In fact, I was more than ok with that. Then came a story out of the LA Times that the Kings were out, the tweet by Kovalchuk's agent and the story in the NY Post saying that Kovalchuk was close to signing with NJ and my mind started to think about the possibilities. Now, on Wednesday night, I am back to being done with Kovalchuk.
Yes, he's a tremendous talent and adds an incredible weapon to any offense but for me, it just doesn't work and after the jump I will give you my reasons why.
Reason #1 - By signing Kovalchuk, someone, maybe even multiple players would have to go. What players would you be ok with losing in order to make room for Kovalchuk's large salary? Before you go an answer that, remember that the Devils have eight no trade clauses on their roster. That means, eight players would have to do Lou a favor and give him the ok to ship him out of town. Would you do that? Even if all those things were to fall into place, the same scenario might have to take place next summer when Zack Parise becomes a restricted free agent.
As a fan who doesn't know how GM's work with each other, trying to dump salary when everyone in the league knows just how much you need to unload and when you need to unload it by seems like a momumnetal task. In fact, I could see Lou having to give away players in order to get it done.
Reason #2 - We've all heard it, the Devils play a certain style of hockey. They are a team that has long been a defense comes first kind of team and they aren't known for the explosive offense. Kovalchuk plays a game that’s fundamentally different from traditional Devils hockey. We the fans, and even Lou have made excuses for how poorly Kovalchuk meshed with the Devils after he was acquired last season and keep saying with more time will come a better fit. I just don't know if that is really true. Lets not forget that the Devils have a lot of talent on the left side of the ice and for some reason I don't know how John Maclean could make sure Parise and Kovalchuk get enough ice time to be productive.
Reason #3 - And probably the most important point (which ties into reason #1 a little). Is Kovalchuk even the right player for the New Jersey Devils? My answer is a flat out NO. The Devils had a strong season right out of the gate but made another early first round exit. The Devils lack a real first-line center and everything that those types of players bring to their team. Having Kovalchuk in the playoffs didn't help NJ at all. If you want proof, just go rewatch those 5 games. So, why does Lou think signing Kovalchuk is going to make a difference, especially since he'd have to move some top players in order to make room?
To me, the problem here is that Lou doesn't seem to know how to get the Devils back into the late rounds of the playoffs and thinks that Kovy might be the answer. Throwing money at Kovy, even if you feel like you got a deal isn't the answer. There's another Devils blog named "Interchangeable Parts" and that's a fantastic name because thats exactly what the NJ Devils have always been. Lou has always found certain players that somehow work with the style that is Devils hockey. Look at Arnott who seemed to dissapoint everywhere he went until he got to NJ, or the production that the Devils got out of Jeff Friesen, something other teams couldn't do. I thought we were getting back to that with the Tallinder and Volchenkov signings but then came news of the Devils still chasing Kovalchuk.
Call me crazy but this is just how I feel.