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-Predators Postgame Quotes [02.12.10]

Here are some of the postgame quotes after the Devils 5-2 win over the Predators on Friday night:

Travis Zajac:

Talking about his goal…

“It was all Jamie (Langenbrunner), I just put it into an open net. A good play by him coming across the middle and taking everyone with him. He threw it in front and I had an open net; not too tough of a goal to score.”

Did you find yourself open by staying back a bit on that play?

“Yeah I just went towards the net and the puck just came out to me; he made a good play and knew someone was coming in.”

Your thoughts on the win…

“It was a good win for us; we did a lot of good things and we scored one on the power play, which was a big goal for us. We got scoring from different lines and different players which we haven’t had in a while.”

Are there any adjustments you have to make when the lines change as much as they do?

“You just have to be aware of who you’re playing with and make sure that you’re talking a lot. That’s the only thing that could get us in trouble, when you have new guys on a line and you aren’t talking. As long as we are sharp, talking and making plays we should be all right.”

Ilya gets his first goal as a Devil finally…

“Yeah a huge goal, it’s nice to see him get one finally because he’s hit some posts and had some great opportunities. To come away with a big goal when we needed it was huge.”

Martin Brodeur:

After a game like this, what do you make of your team’s offense?

“Well we had a lot of chances, it could have been a greater score — I think their goalie played well and made some good saves. I think it’s the reason why we went after Ilya Kovalchuk, to get our offense to a different level; we just have to combine our overall game with having a big weapon like him and he’s definitely going to get other players dangerous out there because of him.”

The second goal did that go off of Andy Greene at all?

“You know what, I don’t know. He (Jordin Tootoo) made a pretty good shot from where he was; it was about 14 inches off the ice and just inside the post. I doubt it touched him because he had a big gap and he walked right into Greenie, a little bit like the goal James van Riemsdyk scored (Monday in Philly); it was similar to that. It kind of becomes a screen if the guy hits their shot; the guy made a pretty good shot, even though it was far out it was a pretty good shot.”

You took a pretty good shot in the throat in the third period, you were okay?

“Yeah a stick, it’s okay, I was coughing a bit. I was surprised because I was looking one way and the stick just came and jabbed me right in the throat.”

A much needed win after three straight L’s?

“Yeah, it’s always nice to win; I think it’s nice for Kovy to get the first one under his belt and get that monkey off his back a little bit. As a team, it’s been a struggle for us to win games, so definitely any win we’ll take it.”

Ilya Kovalchuk:

Talking about his goal…

“It’s very easy to play with good players; it just takes a little while to know them. I’ve gotten a lot of chances every game, a lot of shots, but they didn’t go in so finally today I got that one and hopefully a lot more.”

Were you worried (that you hadn’t gotten a goal yet)?

“No, I was worried because we’re not winning, but the most important thing for us is to win. It really doesn’t matter in this locker room who’s scoring, we just want to get two points every night; and stay on top of our division.”

Isn’t scoring goals why they brought you here though?

“It’s nice to get a goal, especially at home and I’m sure the fans they all expect the goals from me; finally I did it. Like I said we played a solid defensive game and we got the two points.”

Did moving Patrik to center have anything to do with why you scored your goal?

“I don’t know; it was just a great play by everybody putting pressure on their D and Patty made an unbelievable pass, so.”

How’d that feel when it went in and you heard the crowd roar?

“It was nice. It always fun to score, but it’s more fun to win; that was a big win for us.”

When you saw the hats go on the ice what did you think?

“I don’t know; I don’t know what to think. It was kind of a welcome goal and I appreciate that they did it.”

You’ve been here for a week now and in a few days Marty will be your enemy again at the Olympics, what’s that going to be like?

“Unbelievable, I know the guy more now and it’s always good to play against you’re teammates; it’s fun. You play for your country and it’s important, a big honor and I think it will be a great challenge for both of us.”

Have you learned any secrets that you may share with your Russian teammates?

“No, he’s so good you don’t know where to shoot on him. But every goalie hates traffic so you have to make it tough on him.”


Patrik Elias:

Talking about Kovalchuk’s goal…

“Sometimes it goes in and sometimes it doesn’t. Obviously the way he plays, sometimes you look at three goals and you don’t see him on the score sheet you think that he doesn’t do his job, but he always does. He’s getting a lot of opportunities, a lot of shots — and hopefully this will keep him going.”

Were you looking for him there or just anyone?

“Often plays like that we’re just trying to cycle it and you always look for the high man. He was smart enough to find the open spot.”


Jacques Lemaire:

In all your years did you ever see hats thrown on the ice for a non-hat trick?

“We had three goals (smiles).”

No, one goal that Kovalchuk scored…

“Yeah, but it made it three for our team (smiling). It’s been a long time since we scored three goals.”

What did you like best about the team tonight?

“Well our top guys, I think our top guys were better than their top players. They pretty much all scored, they played good. I think we moved the puck better — we even scored a goal on the power play.”