The Waiting is Over…

After 65 days of being held hostage….yes 65…. the Ilya Kovalchuk saga is over. The NHL finally approved Kovalchuk’s 15 year, $100 million dollar deal with the New Jersey Devils and the rest of the hockey world can now move on with their lives. Personally, I was finally able to wear my ‘Kovalchuk 17’ t-shirt that I purchased after he signed the first contract that was rejected by the league and then rejected again by an independent arbitrator.

So what’s next for the Devils? Kovy’s deal puts them about $3 million over the salary cap limit with only 21 of 23 players on their roster, meaning they will have to shed at least two contracts (perhaps Bryce Salvador and Dainius Zubrus) and sign some other players to small money contracts to fill out the roster. By the way, has anyone else noticed that on the Devils official website that Jay Pandolfo is no longer listed on the team’s roster? Other candidates to be moved include Colin White and Brian Rolston, but both have no-trade clauses in their contracts and both are undesirable to other teams as of this moment. If Salvador is moved, I would expect them to bring defenseman Mike Mottau back on a one-year, cheapie deal. If Zubrus is shipped out, expect the team to add some depth by signing a solid veteran such as Richard Park, Brendan Morrison or Jeff Halpern.

With the players they have under contract now, assuming Salvador & or Zubrus are moved, here is what the opening night lineup could look like:

Zach Parise-Travis Zajac-Jamie Langenbrunner
Ilya Kovalchuk-Jason Arnott-David Clarkson
Patrik Elias-Brian Rolston-Vladimir Zharkov
Pierre-Luc Leblond-Richard Park-Mattias Tedenby

Anton Volchenkov-Andy Greene
Henrik Tallinder-Anssi Salmela
Colin White-Mark Fraser

Martin Brodeur-Johan Hedberg

spares: Mike Mottau?, Rod Pelley, Tim Sestito

Who are the teams left that can afford to add a contract like Salvador ($2.9 million) or Zubrus ($3.4 million) this late in the summer?
The Islanders, Thrashers, Blues, Hurricanes, Coyotes, Panthers, Lightning, Stars, Ducks, Predators & Kings all have $9 million or more in cap space.
Time will tell how GM Lou Lamoriello is going to shape and mold his 2010-11 roster and all we can do is sit back and wait; this time it won’t be 65 days because training camp starts for New Jersey on September 17, but they don’t have to be under the salary cap until October 8.

How do you feel now that the second best goal-scorer in the NHL will be a Devil for the next 15 seasons?

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Devils-Lightning Postgame Quotes [01.10.10]

Here are some of the postgame quotes after Friday/Sunday’s  4-2 Devils loss to the Lightning:

Travis Zajac:

A weird experience tonight…

“Yeah, starting a game down 3-0 is not normal, but I think we had some pretty good legs today, we tried to make it interesting. They got that fourth one and kind of knocked the wind out of us.”

Can you talk about the play that you scored on?

Jamie (Langenbrunner) made a good play in front of the net, sent it through the crease and I just happened to be in the right spot.”

You also had an assist later on at the end of the game…

“Yeah I just tried to throw it in front to Zach (Parise); I don’t know if it went off of him or if he got a piece of it. It went in.”


Bryce Salvador:

How did you feel out there today considering the circumstances?

“Just like any other game, but definitely a weird experience. I remember looking up one time I was on the ice and there was a minute left, and you’ve only had two or three shifts. Just when you think you’ve seen it all, there’s always something else.”

Any effects playing games three days in a row?

“No, I think we had our chances to win; for some reason we took a lot of penalties which killed our momentum a few times.”

The fourth goal they scored, was that a backbreaker?

“Its tough, you don’t want to give up a goal right away like that. It was unfortunate, we thought once we got that first one we’d keep rolling; sometimes that happens.”

Are you surprised how many people showed up or how many didn’t considering the score?

“Yeah, I was surprised there was that many; you know you spring a game on people within 24 hours.”


Steven Stamkos:

Talking about the game…

“It was a big win for us; we’ll take them any way we can get them right now. We got the two points and that’s all that matters.”

What was the mindset coming into the game with a 3-0 lead?

“It’s tough; you know have that 3-0 lead but you don’t want to sit back. You want to have that mentality a little bit like it’s a 0-0 game, but still realize you have a three-goal lead and you don’t need to be taking chances to score goals. We didn’t want to lie back too much, but you still want to protect the lead. Obviously those two power plays midway through the second kind of helped us take the pressure away; we knew they were going to get a couple of calls in the third. We killed them off and Smitty did a good job stopping pucks for us tonight.”

Talking about his second goal…

Marty (St. Louis) deserves all the credit; he hustled and beat that guy to the puck and then picked his pocket. I had a one-timer from the bottom of the circle — it was a great play by him and a big goal for our team to relieve that pressure after they made it a two-goal game.”

What were the last 48 hours like?

“We knew we wanted to get this game out of the way as soon as possible, this was the time that we were able to do so. Both teams agreed and it was good to get it out of the way, get the win and now focus on our next game. We were fortunate that we only had an hour and change bus ride from Philly back to here; it wasn’t too bad, but it’s still tough playing three times in three days. It’s nice to be heading back home now.”

Do you remember about your goal here on Friday?

“Yeah (laughs). It was a great play Marty again; it’s easy when you get passes like that from a caliber of player like him. It was nice to get that one, I’ve been snake bitten a bit lately; it was a bonus to get this one here today and help our team win.”

Jacques Lemaire:

Did the disallowed goal take away your team’s edge?

“It would have been nice to get that goal, but I think we started with two penalties and we got this goal that wasn’t allowed. We had a couple of strikes against us right at the start.”

Should there be a strike against the referee for blowing the whistle too fast?

“They should blow it when they don’t see the puck.”

They’re supposed to see the puck aren’t they?

“I know, but you have to get in position to see it and I felt that the shot came from one side and he was behind the goal and didn’t see it.”

How weird was tonight?

“Weird, very weird; I just felt from the start, right when we got that first penalty – we’re running out of time. We were rushing all the time, we had to rush to try to get the game going, get in their zone and get some plays because we knew there was only a period left.”

How’d you feel about (Yann) Danis?

“He was fine. He made a couple of really good saves and the Stamkos one-timer he had no chance on that one; that was pretty quick.”

Devils-Lightning Postgame Quotes [12.04.09]

Here are some of the postgame quotes after Friday’s 3-2 Devils win over the Lightning:

Vladimir Zharkov:

You had your first career point – an assist on the second goal – talk about the play…

“There were two guys behind the net, I wasn’t sure if he was going to pass. He missed the puck and tried to pass it again, and I got my stick on it; Bergy made a nice shot.”
It was nice to get an easy point like that right?

“Yeah, I like to get points. It was a very hard game, after we lost last game. It was good for our team, for me.”

A couple of times you collided with Tampa’s Victor Hedman, he’s a pretty big guy right?

“Yeah, he’s a big guy; the NHL is filled with big guys. It’s no problem for me, I can play against them big or small – it doesn’t matter, this is the NHL, you know.”

Martin Brodeur:

Was it a slow start tonight?

“A little slow, I thought the game was slow; they weren’t faster than us. It was just that we wanted to make sure we started well; I thought we played well, but we didn’t create much, for whatever reason. They didn’t give us a lot of room out there, so it was kind of a chess match.”

Talk about Matthew Corrente stepping up with two fights tonight…

“It’s nice; I don’t know much about that part of his game because I don’t see him play in the minors when he was there, but he’s been holding his own really well here. I think he’s done that, especially against the guys he’s fighting, he’s in a pretty good weight class there. It’s definitely nice when the young guys show that they belong as far as the physical aspect of the NHL game is.”

Did you see Steve Downie set up there on the tying goal?

“No. I was looking at (Ryan) Malone going across and I just saw (Steven) Stamkos wide open, so I got in position as fast as I could; he’s a shooter not a passer, you know? He kind of fooled me there too, like everybody. I can’t worry about a guy back over there (behind me). He had a prime shot there, it was a good play.”

The first goal did it go between the post and your leg pad?

“My skate, yeah I think it went off of my skate and just trickled in a couple of inches.”

You’ve seen some good defenseman come through here, how impressed with Andy Greene are you?

“Well, it’s definitely nice for him to get the opportunity to get the type of ice-time he’s getting. He’s been working really hard throughout the last few years, he’s been in-and-out of the lineup and been questioned a lot. So definitely, for us players, you feel for guys like that do everything and are a good teammate. For him to get this opportunity and do so well, it couldn’t happen to a better guy.”

Victor Hedman:

Frustrating the way you lost tonight?

“Oh yeah, big time. We came back strong to tie it, with three minutes left. But we have to play a full 60 minutes. We had them beat at home (too) when they scored with one second left when they tied the game, in our home opener. We have to play the full 60 minutes.”

They’ve beaten your team ten straight times, it has to be frustrating in that regard?

“Yeah, very frustrating, absolutely; I know we play them once more this year, so we’ll try to get that game.”

It looked like you had momentum after you tied the game, were you shocked at the outcome?

“Not really, we made a nice goal there and we didn’t play the puck the way we were supposed to after that. They made a good goal on the tip-in there at the end.”

Jamie Langenbrunner:

Did you get a piece of the winning goal with your stick?

“That’s what they’re telling me, I’m not a 100% certain so, I’m sure they’ll look at it again.”

After two slow starts in a row, are you satisfied with the way the team started tonight?

“We were still a little bit flat. Both teams, for whatever reason, there was a lot of neutral zone play, and we didn’t have a whole lot of shots in the opening period. We need to get a little bit stronger starts, but we’re battling. It wasn’t a perfect game, but we were able to get the two points.”

A lot of fights tonight, what do you think when you see the kids like Corrente and Mark Fraser dropping the gloves out there?

“It’s great to see; both of those guys got some nastiness in their game. Matt’s shown a few times he’s not afraid to do that and it’s great to see. He’s playing like he wants to be here, he’s playing to do whatever he can to be here; it’s great to see.”

Jacques Lemaire:

Was Greene your best player tonight?

“Yes he was – no doubt. Why? All the good passes, all the retrieves that he made, the nice pass to his partner, skating with the puck away from people, holding onto the puck and making the right pass, hitting the right guy in the neutral zone.”

He played over 30 minutes, did you know that?

“Yeah.”
How’d he become so good?

“I don’t know, he’s got confidence, he’s playing with a lot of confidence. He’s on top of his game — he started a little slow, he had good moments and then all of a sudden he started to be our top defenseman.”

Rob Niedermayer won the face-off that led to the first goal how was his game?

“I liked what he did, I thought on the fourth line he did a great job, at times I used that line a little more frequently because they started to forecheck hard and they were going even better than (Dean) McAmmond’s line. So I played them a little more.”

Did they get sloppy with three penalties in the third or did your team draw them?

“Oh, I think we drew at least one that I was sure of, but the other ones, I didn’t see.”

What do you do with Jay Pandolfo coming back?

“I put him on the wing (smiles). And take another guy out.”

Who goes bye-bye?

“We’ll see. I have to see all the brains that work with me.”

Zharkov is a very excited kid; does he play with that excitement?

“Yeah I like what he does, he’s really strong and a good skater; good with the puck. He’ll be a player; he’ll be a player, in a matter of time.”

Is Colin White okay?

“We’ll see tomorrow.”

Did you see the play that he got hurt on?

“No.”

How about Brian Rolston, tying the game with your first goal?

“Rollie, well that’s Rollie. He’s got a good shot; he gets the puck at the right time. He just stepped into it; I’ve seen him score quite a few goals that way.”

Devils Bolt Past Tampa in Final Minute

Here is the link to my recap of the Devils 3-2 over the Lightning on Friday night:

Devils Bolt Past Tampa in Final Minute

Dan’s Three Stars of the Game:

#1 – Andy Greene (NJ)– assists (11)

#2 – Brian Rolston  (NJ) – pp goal (9), assist (6)

#3 – Martin Brodeur (NJ) – 22 saves, win (16-7-1)

Line combos/d-pairings:

New Jersey:
Parise-Elias-Bergfors
Rolston-Zajac-Langenbrunner
Halischuk-McAmmond-Zharkov
Pikkarainen-Niedermayer-Pelley

Greene-Salvador
White-Mottau
Fraser-Corrente

Tampa Bay:
St. Louis-Stamkos-Malone
Tanguay-Lecavalier-Halpern
Veilleux-Szczechura-Downie
Konopka-Wright-Jones

Ohlund-Meszaros
Hedman-Krajicek
Hale-Walker