Ilya Kovalchuk has just signed a new seventeen year deal to stay a New Jersey Devil for his foreseeable future. The cap hit will be only $6 Million a season, but Kovalchuk and the Devils played the system by only really paying Kovalchuk what he wanted and deserves for the first ten years of the deal. The final seven years were just meant to bring the cap hit down, by paying only $750,000. I think the NHL needs to look at this problem with the cap because teams are exploiting this and nobody can blame them for it because if there is a loophole it is the general managers right and obligation to use it to the best advantage of the team. Kovalchuk will now retire after 10 years when the money he receives starts to decrease and he will in effect have been paid by the team ~$10,000,000 a season.
Now, onto why Kovalchuk signing in New Jersey is not good for the team or for him individually. If you look at his numbers last season in Atlanta compared to in New Jersey, Kovalchuk’s production dropped significantly in New Jersey. He only managed a point a game in New Jersey, while in Atlanta he was ripping it up at a much higher output. The Devils are known as a defensive team who don’t score a tremendous amount of goals and this just isn’t what Kovalchuk was made for.
The team also sputtered after adding Kovalchuk to the lineup and went out quickly in the first round of the playoffs, only managing one win. Kovalchuk did lead the team in scoring in the playoffs so you can’t put the blame directly on him, but I think the Devils should be Parise’s team and I’m just not convinced that Kovalchuk will ever find chemistry or find his place on a team such as the Devils.
In Los Angeles, Kovalchuk would have been on a younger, up and coming team who play much more his style of game. He would have blossomed even further offensively in LA playing with the likes of Drew Doughty, Anze Kopitar and the other young stars on the team. In New Jersey Kovalchuk will not be challenging for any individual awards anymore, whereas in Los Angeles he could have been a threat for the Art Ross or Maurice Richard trophies for years to come.
I don’t like the deal for either side and I don’t like how the NHL is allowing teams to blatantly take advantage of the salary cap loop holes by allowing ridiculously front loaded deals for ridiculous amounts of time. If I look at this in terms of betting it likely means the oddsmakers will likely set the ice hockey odds in New Jerseys favour, which means I’m going to be wagering against them all season long!