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-Maple Leafs Postgame Quotes [02.05.10]

Here are some of the postgame quotes after the Devils 4-3 win over Toronto on Friday night:

Travis Zajac:
The game didn’t exactly go the way you planned, are you happy with the result?

“Yeah, we found a way to get the two points; we know we didn’t play good until, maybe the last five minutes of that game. When we got it to 3-2, we started to pressure them a little more, getting in on the forecheck; we got a penalty called in our favor and we were able to capitalize. Then we got one with 20 seconds left so it was a weird game. We didn’t get much going until the end of the game.”

This game was similar to last Friday’s game against Toronto, wasn’t it?

“Yeah exactly, I think the first two periods we didn’t play with a lot of confidence, excitement; I don’t know what it was. We weren’t controlling the puck; we were making terrible plays and turning the puck over. In the third we came out with a little better performance and were able to sneak one away.”

Was part of that lack of energy the overexcitement of having a new player on the team?

“Yeah, maybe; I think this morning we were all pretty excited and we had a lot of energy at pre-game skate it felt like. Maybe we were a little too excited and weren’t ready for the game; but it looked like we didn’t have as much energy or we weren’t working hard or something, but it helps when you get a couple of goals. It was definitely exciting and hopefully we can build off this win.”

Talk about your goal…

“Just on the power play there, Kovalchuk had it at the point and he made a nice play to Dean-o; Dean sent it cross-ice to me and I was just able to get a pretty good shot away.”

You’ve been getting goals like that lately, on slap shots and one-timers, is that something you work on constantly?

“Yeah we work on it in practice; one-timers all the time. I just got all of that one for some reason.”

Kovalchuk jumped on you after that goal; how exciting of a moment was that…

“Yeah (smiles), you could see, just by the first game you can tell he wants to win, he’s a good teammate and he gets excited to score and win games; that’s what we need on this team.”

Martin Brodeur:

Talking about the power play…

“Having Kovy in the lineup, we need to draw penalties because having him is a huge weapon.”

What’s your take on Kovalchuk?

“Well he’s an exciting player; he’s a guy where the opposing team cares about where he is at all times. Eventually it will open up some ice for other people — you saw it on the power play with him faking the one-timer and passing it back to Dean-o. It opened that whole lane because the defender didn’t want to give that shot away from Kovy right in the middle of the ice like that. That’s what hopefully he’ll bring every night to us.”

Last week we talked about recent wild games against Toronto, does this one go right up with that?

“Definitely (chuckles), that was an interesting game; I think we played well for two periods and we were as bad as it gets for the second period, myself included. Turnovers were made and it wasn’t pretty out there, but I was able to make two big saves — one on (Phil) Kessel early in the third period and the toe save I made on (John) Mitchell — that kept the game still within reach and the guys took over in the last five minutes.”

Did the second Toronto goal hit one of your players on its way towards you?

“No it kind of screened me, a scissor-effect with the skate; I think (Colin) White was following the player and it went right through his legs — and I missed it a bit, I thought I was in good position. It just hit my stick and found a little hole in my five-hole.”

Jay Pandolfo:

Talking about his goal…

“I just went to the net, Jamie (Langenbrunner) made a great play in the zone to kind of keep in it, he made a nice pass back to (Mike) Mottau and I just went to the net and got the rebound.”

Similar to last week’s game except this week your team scored the late goals?

“Yeah it was a nice comeback for us, we didn’t have our best game obviously, sometimes that happens when you get a new player and everybody’s trying to get him the puck.”

Jacques Lemaire:

Can you describe what led to the turnaround?

“I cannot (smiles). The whole game I was asking the players to win battles, to make plays, to be better with the puck; we have to be better, we couldn’t do that. We did it only the last two minutes and fifty seconds — then everything was working — we were skating, passing the puck, making plays. How it happened, I just don’t know.”

Did (Vladimir) Zharkov’s pass to (Dean) McAmmond change the whole game there?

“I think it did. The guys on the bench were really excited about that goal and I heard some of them saying ‘hey we can come back, we can come back’ and for the first time in the game I saw that they were excited.”

Talking about the third period…

“We played (only) three lines at the end, most of the time. I was trying to find the combination that could work together; I probably tried everyone with everybody.”

Is Kovalchuk more than just a goal scorer?

“He can pass the puck, you can tell by the plays he’s making; he’ll be fine. He’s a guy that can’t do it on his own all the time; he will sometimes, but he needs help. I thought we played exactly like we’ve been playing lately — not enough energy on the ice, which we paid the price for. Now I’m trying to find the right answer, the right things to do, to make them play as hard as they can.”

Did you know he is getting better in the defensive aspect of the game?

“On the flight from Washington maybe he thought about that (smiles).”

You used (Anssi) Salmela almost twenty minutes, what did you think of him?

“He was fine; he played well. He was not a liability, he moved the puck fine; he just has to get used to the type of game that we’re playing.”

Did Zharkov have one of his better games?

“Zharkov played really well; I have to say that he was one of the best players (for us). He was skating, had puck control, and played hard defensively and offensively.”

Ilya Kovalchuk:

How exciting was this win?

“Very exciting; I took a penalty in the second period and they scored. I was saying to myself that I had to do something because it wasn’t going to be a good debut.”

How many comebacks like this do you remember, this was pretty unusual?

“This year, with the Thrashers, we had quite a few. But it was great to play in front of this kind of crowd, they supported us all game long and nobody left the building.”

You mentioned Brodeur being meaningful, what do you mean by that?

“Yeah, the saves he made in the third period, on their power play, I think that was the key to the game.”

Were you nervous?

“No, not really. First shift, maybe, but the guys were supporting me real well.”

Were you trying to come back and play defense more often tonight?

“I will try always to do that; this year I was plus-1 when I left the Thrashers and that was a big change for me. I think in my career I am minus-95 or something, so hopefully that will change.”

How do you feel you played?

“It wasn’t my best game, but I think it was all right for my first game — especially that we got the two points.”

Can you sum up what the last 24-hours have been like for you?

“It’s not easy, but when you come to this kind of organization, where they’ve won three Stanley Cups, they definitely know how to win and they want to win. To make this move shows that they are serious and hopefully we can do some damage in the playoffs.”

Devils-Thrashers Postgame Quotes

Here are some of the postgame quotes after Monday’s 3-2  win by the Devils over the Thrashers:

Zach Parise:

Is it a weight off your shoulders (that you scored a goal tonight)?

“Yeah, it definitely feels good. It feels good that something finally went in, it’s definitely a good feeling.”

The goal that they gave credit to Colin White, did you touch it at all on the way in?

“I don’t know; we’ll have to watch it on video I guess.”

Can you talk about the first goal?

“It was a good play by Bergy to keep the puck in the zone there. He found me going in front of the net and I got a couple of whacks at it.”

Were you just waiting for David Clarkson to come back into the lineup to score a goal?

“(Smiling) Yeah that was the secret, that’s what I was waiting for.”

Were you surprised to see Niclas Bergfors get up from that hit before his assist?

“Yeah, you have to give him a lot of credit for making that play; I saw the video and he got hit pretty hard, but he got back up and made a good play. He was talking about it afterwards (on the bench) and he was a little shaken up after the hit.”

The lines were jumbled up after Andrew Peters was tossed in the opening two minutes; did that have any affect tonight?

“I guess we’re kind of used to it by now. I warmed up with Travis (Zajac) and Jamie (Langenbrunner) and then I started (the game) with Dean (McAmmond) and Patty, and then I didn’t see them the rest of the night, so (laughs). You have to make adjustments to how they’re playing and then when Petey got thrown out of the game, we had to mix and match all night.”

Martin Brodeur:

They’ve played you tough in three games this season…

“It’s just one shot that makes a difference; they have two good goalies over there that will make key saves at the right time. When they play us, I’ve seen some of the games they’ve played and it gets pretty wild sometimes, but today they looked pretty sound defensively. Their defenseman were carrying the puck and they made good plays; I thought we just stayed the course all game long.”

What happened to (Bryce) Salvador?

“I don’t know. I didn’t see, sorry I cant help you guys.”

What did you see on that first goal?

“Kovalchuk? It was a bomb. I went across and tried to get as big as I could because I know he was there; (the pass) got tipped and it threw me off a bit. My angle, because I knew exactly where he was, but when it got tipped he changed so I was a little too close to my post and he just hit it as hard as he could in the top of the net.”

The second goal went off of one of your players?

“Yeah it went off of both sticks (in the lane) and it kind of caught me a bit – the way it came up. It kind of handcuffed me (between my glove and my side), it threw me off a bit.”

How did you like the overall performance of the team coming off of a loss?

“A different opponent, playing at home; not as chaotic a day; I think we did what Jacques wanted us to do against that team. It was nice to see Clarkie back out there, getting into a fight, getting himself going. This is the way we have to bounce back after a bad game, with a win.”

After giving up four goals Saturday, how did you feel out there?

“Yeah I felt pretty good; I felt really good in Washington, it’s just that their firepower kind of overwhelmed us. I haven’t played really well against these guys this year in two games — one I got pulled, one I lost — so I just wanted to make sure I was good tonight.”

Patrik Elias:

Is it important for the team to get Zach out of his drought?

“Its good for him, he didn’t have any pressure from anybody because he was giving his best effort every night; it was just a matter of time (before he scored). I told him you only got halfway to what I had — a few years back, 18 games or something, so we kidded about that. He’s so good around the net, he gets himself opportunities, its going to go for him, sooner than later.”

Jacques Lemaire:

Thoughts on the win…what worked and why?

“I think it was a hard fought game, both teams played hard. There was a lot of hitting and not a lot of room to play. This is a team, the way they play with their wingers is tight; they play man-on-man. To get away from this you have to skate, you have to beat people. Otherwise there is always somebody on you if you are not skating.”

Parise came through…

“It’s been a couple of practices now that I feel he has been skating better; maybe his mind is more clear. To me, the biggest difference, Travis played really well, he helped him. On the second goal, Patrik made a great pass to him. Zach, he is always skating, but when he is open and waiting for the puck, somebody has to give it to him — tonight he had people give it to him.”

Was Clarkson too reckless?

“Well I think its only being a part of games and knowing your position in the defensive zone, knowing what to do. I don’t know if you saw the replay (of the first goal), he was wondering where he should go at that time before the goal. He was in front of the net, he didn’t know if he was going to stay down low or go back to his position. When you don’t play for a while, this is what’s going to happen to you. Besides that I thought he was skating fine and on the PP he was good, he missed one chance.”

What can you tell us about Salvador?

“Sal, nothing. He left the game and we won’t know more until later.”

How worried were you when Ilya Kovalchuk had the puck late in the game?

“When he shoots, everybody worries.”

Are you upset with Andrew Peters?

“I don’t want to think about this; I have other stuff on my mind.”

Did his loss screw up your game plan, as far as how you wanted to roll your lines?

“Well we end up playing three lines there in the third period, for sure. I don’t know how it would have turned out had he stayed in the game, but anyway, it’s done.”