I feel obligated to tell you that if you are an Ilya Kovalchuk supporter, you might just want to close your browser and skip right past this article of mine.
As I mentioned last week in my quarter season review, I get the feeling when I watch the Devils that something is just missing. In fact there are many things missing but one of those things would be a guy that whenever he has the puck, you get the feeling that he just might put that puck in the net. I thought Ilya Kovalchuk was that kind of player. It seemed like he was that kind of player when he played in Atlanta but for some reason, Devils fans have never seen that side of Ilya Kovalchuk and honestly, probably never will.
Let’s look at some recent facts:
• Kovalchuk was on the ice for 3 of the 4 goals scored by the Jets on Friday night.
• Kovalchuk was on the ice for 3 of the 4 goals scored by the Wild on Friday night.
• Kovalchuk was on the ice for 5 of the 6 goals scored by the Avs on Wednesday night.
• In 20 games played, he’s a -11, which is #1 on the team for worst +/- rating.
All in all he was on the ice for 11 of the last 14 goals scored against us in the last 3 games and 13 of the last 17, so I ask you, does the dude know how to play defense?
He is currently ranked at 123rd in the league in the goals column. Let us just take a quick look at some of the guys ahead of him in this column.
• Olli Jokinen
• Cal Clutterbuck
• Nathan Horton
• Jason Chimera
• Scott Hartnell
• David Clarkson
ARE YOU F&#$^#G KIDDING ME?? Kovalchuk is currently making $6 million dollars this season, which jumps to $11 million next season. Now admittedly, the cap hit stays at 6.667 million each season but we are still spending a boat load of money on the guy and guys like Cal Clutterbuck and David Clarkson are outscoring him? Plus, we have to add on to this that Kovalchuk is ahead of all these guys when it comes to TOI/G.
I’m being serious here when I say this. The Devils have come off a horrible weekend and are 0-3 on their current road trip, heading into Toronto which doesn’t make me feel good about not going 0-4. There are lots of problems everywhere with this team but I do believe the main problem starts with (not ends with) #17. He’s not the kind of guy that fits in the type of team we have. We aren’t getting a lot of offense from him and his defense is pure crap. I’ve seen countless guys with less talent come on to this team and succeed. You need an example, how about Jeff Friesen or even Jason Arnott 1.0? Both guys weren’t supposed to do much when they got here and did exactly the opposite.
If I had to do it all over again, Kovalchuk wouldn’t be in NJ and the money used to sign him would have been used on either a #1 center or a true #1 defenseman and I would probably go defenseman first. I know I can’t change what has been done but I don’t see Kovalchuk ever changing his way. He spends too much time on the ice and and is making too many mistakes. He’s become the centerpiece of this team but doesn’t play like other centerpieces in the league and doesn’t really appear to care about that either. It’s going to be a long contract that we will argue over for many, MANY year so thanks Lou, you royally screwed this team and we STILL owe the NHL of our first round picks.