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 Post-Game Quotes [09.26.09]

Here are the transcripts of my post-game interviews after last night’s 1-0 Devils win over the Flyers at the Prudential Center.

Andrew Peters:

Your thoughts on the game?
“Don’t you want to talk to Dainius Zubrus? It was a good game, big win. Marty (Brodeur) played great. We came out a little bit slow, but as the game went on we got a lot better and sometimes….”

Good bounce back after losing to Philly 2-1 in OT on Thursday night?
“It was a tough loss the other night, you hate losing in overtime. But I think there’s a rivalry here and guys really get amp’d up to play against each other. There was some good energy put there.”

How are you doing, as far as getting in shape?
“I feel better every day. I came to camp big and strong; I put on 15 pounds over the summer, so at first it was tough to adjust (playing) at that weight. You know, as much as you skate back home, it’s not the same as being in a game. So it’s an adjustment when you’re carrying that much extra weight around. I think I’m adjusting just fine and my goal is to continue to learn Coach Lemaire’s system and play the system the best I can.”

How has your experience been with Coach Jacques Lemaire been so far?

“Great. He’s a great teacher. He really takes time to make sure you understand and he wants to make sure that everyone is on the same page; the way he explains the game, he makes it so simple. I think that’s why he’s had so much success as a coach in this league.”

Paul Martin

Thoughts on the game?
“We were a little streaky. We had some chances we didn’t score on. I think we had a little lackadaisical second (period), but I thought we played better in the third. So it was good to finish strong.”

The PK was good tonight, going 5-for-5.
“Yeah, we did well, Marty played good. We have to get the puck out (of the zone) though – we gave them a couple of extra chances. Otherwise the PK did good tonight.”

Good response after a loss to Philly on Thursday?
“Yeah, it’s always feels a lot better when you win, and you’re doing things right, so that helps.”

Thoughts on the new coach?
“It’s been good so far. He’s come in and changed some things up, so it takes a little time to adjust; but so far guys are buying in and working hard, so with time I’m sure it’ll be good.”

Zach Parise

Your thoughts on the game?
“I think we played pretty well at certain times in the game. I think our PP could be a little better; we can try and get some more chances. There are still areas that we need to improve on – but that’s what training camp and preseason games are for.

PK was good tonight, and you played 3:08 in the game on it, something you haven’t done too often here in New Jersey. Your thoughts on both?
“I thought our PK was really good. I like penalty killing, its helps you stay in the game more – every 15, 20, 30 seconds you’re out there, you get your legs going a little bit. I think our PK has been good. We’ve been aggressive, and aggressive at the right times.”

Your thoughts on the new coach?
“It’s been really good. He’s a really good teacher, I’ve learned a lot. He makes suggestions on things we can do better and gives the explanation why. Its good, so far we’ve learned a lot.”

Jacques Lemaire

“I didn’t like that second period. We set the puck up, we didn’t control it, and we just sat back.”

Are you close to where you want to be offensively?

“I think there’s a lot of improvement for us to get to where we want to get to. You know I felt we made good steps from game to game, but this game was step back.”

Consistency?

“We didn’t work hard enough and we weren’t at our best at skating tonight. Our thinking cap wasn’t on, and that’s why we played, in the second period we sat back a little too much. In the third, we came back and you could see that there was more intensity, but we want to play more like the third period than the second.”

Jay Pandolfo?

“He’s sore, not sick.”

Brodeur’s game tonight?

“Very solid; very focused, that’s the goalie that I know. He controlled the puck well, he made good plays. On the PK he sent the puck down a few times. He looked good.”

Zubrus?

“It’s not one player that makes a line. And that line didn’t go as well as I would like to and its the chemistry of the 3 guys that has to be better. The chemistry could be to support at the right time, the right play. I remember one time they had a great chance to make a play and they shot instead of making the play. They make the play…it’s a goal. That type of chemistry I’m talking about. Good support offensively, skating at the same time; not one guy, not two guys, but all three. Back the defensemen up when its time to back them up; be consistent in all this. That’s what we’re looking for. They do it, but not all the time. That’s why the line is not working; they don’t have success right now. At times it’s everyone. It’s every line that has to do a little more, or working better as a line, it’s everyone. “

What about the Parise-Zajac-Langenbrunner line?

“No, no, no. Not as much as I’ve seen (in the past).”

Almost time for training camp…

With the open of training camp on September 13, many of the Devils players have started to make their way to New Jersey for some scrimmages and workout sessions. Here’s whats been going on according to the Fire & Ice blog by Tom Gulitti:

Brendan Shanahan will now wear no. 14 which was vacated when Brian Gionta signed with Montreal; Shanny previously wore 14 in Detroit and with the NY Rangers. He is also experimenting with wearing a visor for the first time in his career.

Jay Pandolfo became a first-time dad when his wife gave birth to a baby boy on July 2, the day after his longtime linemate John Madden signed with Chicago. He admitted it will be weird not seeing Madden when camp opens, but is looking forward to playing for coach Jacques Lemaire again. Pando is one of only four current Devils (Brian Rolston, Martin Brodeur, Patrik Elias) that has played for Lemaire in New Jersey.

Ilkka Pikkarainen is wearing no. 17 which was last worn by Mike Rupp who’s now in Pittsburgh.

Zach Parise took batting practice with his hometown Minnesota Twins last week and almost hit a home run to right field, falling just short of the wall which is 340 feet away from home plate.

Elias won the Czech player-of-the-year award, had successful surgery on his hip in June and obtained his level B coaching license from the Czech Ice Hockey Federation according to his website.