Waiting For Kovalchuk…

A lot has happened since Ilya Kovalchuk (642 points in 621 NHL games) became the most talented free-agent in NHL history to hit the open market on July 1, but here we sit on July 18 and the Russian sniper (338 career goals) still hasn’t found a new home. New Jersey, which acquired him in a trade last season is still in the mix, and so are the in, out, in, out, in the Kovy-sweepstakes LA Kings. A third option could be the Russian KHL League, but a talented player in his prime like Kovalchuk needs to play in the league with the most talent and best competition — the NHL.

There are still very valuable players on the market besides Kovalchuk and it seems that the are all waiting for him to sign, before they decide where to go or maybe the other GMs are waiting to see where he lands — making for a very boring two weeks in July devoid of any substantial hockey news.  So, here’s what I am thinking about as we wait for Kovalchuk’s ‘decision’ to be made:

-The NY Islanders have made some solid, off the radar moves to shore up their blue line (Mark Eaton & Milan Jurcina), but more work needs to be done if they are to contend for a playoff spot out of the ultra-competitive Atlantic Division. They should look to sign Alexei Ponikarovsky to play in the top-six and bring back two former Islanders to add more grit to their game — Andy Sutton & Raffi Torres. Sutton has said he would welcome a return to the Island and Torres would be a perfect fit on the third line alongside either Frans Nielsen or Doug Weight.

-What in the freaking world is going on in Calgary?!? They signed two ex-Flames, who both had less than stellar tenures the first time around. Alex Tanguay is a shell of the player he was in 2001 with Colorado and Olli Jokinen was traded away for Ales Kotalik and his ridiculous contract and then they re-sign Jokinen who never looked comfortable in Calgary alongside Jarome Iginla. A few days later ex-Tampa GM Jay Feaster as assistant to the GM who will be probably soon be fired in Darryl Sutter.

-There are still two solid goalies available — one via free agency (Marty Turco) and one via trade (Tim Thomas). It’s not every day you have these types of quality goalies available, so stop being cheap and give your team a decent chance to succeed next year (this means you Columbus, Toronto, Atlanta, Florida, Tampa, Montreal, Minnesota, LA, San Jose, Dallas).

-There are two enigmatic, but talented wingers available in Max Afinogenov and Alex Frolov and i haven’t heard peep about either yet. It’s possible that one of these two could wind up in the KHL, but in the right situation they can still be solid NHLers.

-Two talented centers are available for trade, but both have almost unmovable  contracts — Boston’s Marc Savard and Ottawa’s Jason Spezza. Hey, maybe they should just be traded for each other?

-It seemed odd to me that: Pittsburgh signed defenseman Paul Martin from New Jersey, New Jersey signed Anton Volchenkov from Ottawa and Ottawa signed Sergei Gonchar from Pittsburgh. This is just my opinion but, a three-way trade during the season would have been soooooo much cooler!

-If the Devils don’t sign Kovalchuk, they should take a hard look at Miroslav Satan, and not just because of the name. Miro proved in the playoffs that he can still produce and help a winning team go deep into the spring.

-Four solid long-time NHL vets are still on the market. Would Mike Modano, Paul Kariya, Teemu Selanne & Bill Guerin have lasted this long on the open market ten summers ago in 2000? I think not. Modano may go to Detroit, which makes sense in a lot of ways. What if Kariya and Selanne sign one-year deals in Pittsburgh like they did in Colorado? Apparently Sidney Crosby felt he didn’t need Guerin’s leadership, so maybe Guerin could ride shotgun with AO in DC?

-Finally where in the world is Petr Sykora? The rest of your buddies from 2000 are in NJ…..A-LINE, ASSEMBLE!!!!

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Devils-Islanders Postgame Quotes [04.10.10]

Here are some of the postgame quotes from the Devils 7-1 win over the Islanders:

Travis Zajac:
A big win to secure the division title…

“It was a really big win for us; we’re trying to get ready for the playoffs here. To get scoring from all the lines, and the power play, it’s good for us going into the playoffs on a high note.”

You had four assists tonight; did you feel particularly well out there?

“I don’t think I should’ve had four, I think Zach (Parise) should’ve had the first one, so I don’t know if I had that. But, like I said, I just want to be playing my best hockey going into the playoffs. I think that’s the focus for all of us right now, make sure our game is sound both offensively and defensively; and if we do that, we’re going to make a run here in the playoffs.”


Dainius Zubrus:

You scored the first goal which got the scoring barrage started tonight…

“You think so? I don’t know; the guys were ready, we knew what’s at stake. We want to finish on top and more than anything you want to play well going into the playoffs. The guys were fired up (tonight) and played well.”

Do you feel like the team is where it needs to be heading into the playoffs?

“Well yeah, we’ve been playing much better; I don’t think you can judge by one game. If you look at the last week or so, even the last game in Florida we had over 40 shots on net, but their goalie played pretty well. I think we’re getting better and today was a good step towards the playoffs.”

You clinched the division, how important is tomorrow’s game with Buffalo?

“Well like I said, it’s important to go in (to the playoffs) playing well. We’re playing one of the top teams in the conference; it’s one of those games where you can measure yourself a little bit again. I think the second or third seed in the East will be at stake, so we want to finish as high as possible and play as well as we can.”

Dean McAmmond:

Talking about his goal…

“It was a good play by Rollie and (Rod) Pelley coming out of our end; I kind of got the loose puck, Rollie got up on their d-man. I just grabbed the puck and their d-man was flat-footed, I just got on an angle, tried to go five-hole and it went to the outside of the net, handcuffed the goalie and the shot went off the net and the back of his knee. Sometimes they go in that way.”

Do you feel the team is playing the way they need to play heading into the playoffs?

“Yeah, we’ve had some better games. You look at the game in Florida, where they worked hard, they skated hard and we just kind of relaxed there; and this could’ve been one of those game tonight if we just relaxed, we would’ve kept them in it. We focused on playing hard — once we got two or three (goals) on them, they knew it was over; I think they let off a bit too.”

What does winning the division mean to you?

“I think it’s a great deal for us, a good accomplishment. We’ve had a stop-and-go type of year where we’ve been going hard and slowly losing it, then getting back on it again. It’s nice to win some games going into the playoffs.”


Martin Brodeur:

Talking about losing the shutout…

“Games like that its going to happen, especially when you give them a power play. Five-on-five I don’t think they would’ve got anything on us; we made a little mistake and the guy hit the puck out of mid-air on the goal line there, so it is what it is.”

Do you guys not realize how hard it is to win the division?

“Well we do, we do (smiles). I think we’ve grown to expect success here and we understand how hard it is. Trust me, we go through ups and downs, you guys see it – but we live it every day; with our organization, our coaches, our GM — they want us to play well every single day. For us the accomplishment means a lot, but they expect us to do it; and we expect ourselves to do it. But we understand how hard it is, it’s not like we dominated our division, only one team – Pittsburgh. The other ones, the Rangers wasn’t that good, Philly we were awful and these guys we were 4-2 I think.”

What do you like about this team?

“I think how good we were earlier in the season helped to set ourselves up for what would happen to us today. It’s been a little more rocky, but I think making the big trade to get Kovy in our lineup, I think in the playoffs we’ll be a different team than maybe past years because of a guy like that. His presence will give Zach a little more room and other players to do different things just because we have a weapon like Kovy there that they do have to respect because he’s a pretty talented player that’s going to change games around sometimes.”

Significant game tomorrow vs. Buffalo?

“Yeah it is; it gives us the opportunity to be at home for at least two rounds if we win. It would’ve been better if they had lost tonight (laughs) to Ottawa, but hey that’s why we play 82 games. If we lose it’s not the end of the world, but it could be something nice to have.”

You’re about to win the Jennings trophy, any significance to you at all?

“I haven’t looked at the numbers, where we’re at, but for us we care about the way we play defensively even though we have a different — that’s what I like we’re more geared towards offense, compared to other years — and we’re still able to dominate in our own zone; in a league that’s more geared towards scoring goals. It’s nice to finish on top, that’s for sure.”

All you have to do is not give up eight or nine goals tomorrow…

“(knocks on the wood column in his locker) You never know my friend, it’s nice. It’s fun for some players who’ve never won one. You go into a building and look up at the banners and you’re like ‘I was a part of this, this, this’ it’s fun. I’ve been here a long time, other guys for them it’s their first one and more to come.”

Ilya Kovalchuk:

Is it a different feeling now then when you made the playoffs with Atlanta?

“Yeah a little bit, I only went once and we lose all four games, but that was a great season and great atmosphere for the playoff games. I remember that and I’m still looking for my first win, hopefully it will be really soon.”

Championship Plaza

Construction has began outside the Prudential Center on what is being called Championship Plaza…included in it will be: a 22-foot, 7,000-lb. hockey player statue, stone markers paying tribute to the Devils’ three Stanley Cups, Four Eastern Conference Championships and eight Atlantic Division titles, a 60-foot granite Devils logo, a recreation of Prudential’s ‘Rock of Gibraltor’ and a piece of the Plaza will have fan messages etched in bricks that can be purchased for a limited time…It should be a nice addition to what is an already beautiful arena, that is, as long as angry, obnoxious Rangers’ fans don’t start buying bricks like they buy seats at Rangers-Devils games in New Jersey…I look forward to seeing it when I return to the Rock in September…