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-Stars Postgame Quotes [01.05.10]

Here are some of the postgame quotes after Tuesday’s 4-0  win by the Devils over the Stars:

Travis Zajac:

Talking about the game…

“It was a pretty good game by us; I think we moved the puck well, got in on the forecheck, made some plays and capitalized on our opportunities.”

After the Pittsburgh game last week, everyone said it was one of the most complete games of the season, is this one right up there with that?

“Yeah, I think so. Everyone played well tonight, everyone was skating and made smart plays.”

It’s been a while since you scored, talk about your goal…

“It was on the power play, it was a shot I took; I haven’t been shooting from there, today I took one and it goes in. When you shoot the puck, good things happen.”

When you go through a drought like you did, is it any easier when the team is successful?

“Yeah it definitely helps that we are still winning games, everyone is contributing. But you want to be a part of that and it’s tough, you just have to keep working and try to get you chances every game.”

Martin Brodeur:

You’re off to the best start in franchise history is that hard to believe?

“Yeah it is because we’ve had some great teams, some teams that dominated and stuff; so to see this team being at the top of the conference as far as points is a little surprising.”

What do you want to see in the second half?

“Well, more of the same. I think consistency is where everybody is looking for their game; I think that’s a hard thing to do. Especially when you move into the second half of the season, it’s going to get really hard — points are tougher to get and you have to work harder and teams are starting to be desperate eventually. Definitely building a cushion helps us out, but we can’t let our guard down; we have to put our head down and go and play well and be consistent.”

You had to swap out masks during the game, is that a first for you?

“I’m sure I’ve done that before. It’s my old mask too, so it was a little crusty in there (laughs).”

What happened on that shot?

“The shot, it shattered my throat protector, right in the middle; so it was kind of flopping on the sides, so I had to change it.”

After the Pittsburgh game last week, everyone said it was one of the most complete games of the season, is that a fair statement?

“I think so, we played a solid game. Two different teams that we beat for sure, but this was a team that played us really good in Dallas; so we have a lot of respect (coming in) for them for the way they played us. So we went out and played a really solid game.”

Zach Parise:

Can you talk about your goal tonight?

“I think it was a really well executed 3-on-2; we had a guy, Travis, going right through the middle, Jamie (Langenbrunner) pulled up and both of their D went with Travis. Jamie found me on the far side wide open.”

Is this one of the team’s more complete games?

“I think so, I think you saw all four lines playing well and getting scoring chances. We played well in our own zone too, and for a few games we kind of got away from that. But it was nice to be able to get a win tonight.”

Did it factor in at all that this was a team that beat you earlier in the season?

“I don’t think we think about that too much, that didn’t really cross our minds — revenge or payback or anything like that.”

Jacques Lemaire:

How does this compare with some of the top wins this season?

“I think you have to put this one with some of the best that we’ve played, if not the best. You look at the speed we had, puck control, plays, we didn’t last a long time in our end so that we got the puck and went to the other zone. I think the guys were skating really well.”

Who would be your three stars tonight?

“Ooh, three stars; tonight I liked all of them. So they all get a star.”

You said the last two games were two of the worst and then this, where did this come from?

“I don’t know. It’s strange because I didn’t like the last two practices, I felt the guys were a little tired and they came out tonight and played like they did; I was surprised, very surprised.”

Zajac finally shooting…

“Yeah, he played well, I don’t know if you guys saw what he did, he was strong on the puck; he won a lot of battles, 1-on-2, 1-on-1, made some great plays and scored a goal.”

You put Pierre-Luc Leblond in, and he seemed to be a factor, what about his game?

“He played well; at first I didn’t know if I was going to put him in or Andrew (Peters) in. He hasn’t been playing for a long time and he’s been practicing hard, doing his job, trying to stay positive. I felt it would be a good time to give him a chance and his performance was good. I think he banged a few guys, with the puck he did well — he did better than in practice with the puck. He looked good.”

What did you think of Elias’ penalty?

“The first one? You probably saw me on TV; it tells what I thought of it. The thing is you do have to be careful when the game is 1-0, when the game is close. You have to be careful, because it could turn around, go the other way. So it’s not only this penalty, it’s every time it happens; you have to be in good control, you have to know the game, you have to know the score when you want to do any type of shots to the opponent.”

When he scored after coming out of the box, did he make up for it?

“I don’t know he got another penalty after. The point is he still did it, that’s the thing. We want him on the ice, we don’t want him in the penalty box; I think he’s more effective on the ice.”