Ilya Kovalchuk retires from the NHL – Sochi – Extensions & Trades by Joe Francis – July 21, 2013

Joe Francis
Joe Francis

CFN – lya, Ilya, Ilya… The New Jersey Devils franchise is in ruins. Zack Parise went to KovalchuckMinnesota. Martin Brodeur is likely in his final season as a Devil. The Devils went all-in to get the dynamic Russian and between trading for him and re-signing him the club put itself in a position of great expectation going forward. 

As we all know from lifes experiences things don’t always work out the way we’d like and in this case it doesn’t get much worse for Devils fans. On the surface Ilya cost the team two first round picks (One of which will be forfeited automatically at the 2014 draft) Niclas Bergfors, Patrice Cormier, Johnny Oduya, a Second round pick, A $3 million dollar fine (Cap circumvention on first extension attempt) and maybe the hardest to swallow in that whole ordeal is Zack Parise who with Ryan Suter of the Nashville Predators would sign monster deals to join the Wild.

Now the Devils are in a position no team wants to be in. Weakened and without a first round selection in the upcoming draft. David Clarkson signed a seven year deal with the Toronto Maple Leafs leaving them another winger short and blowing the door open for a youth movement in New Jersey whether they are ready or not. 

Many believe Lou Lamoriello is not going to idly watch the season pass but the best course of action at this point is restraint. The team traded their 1st round pick at the draft for goaltender Cory Schneider who is expected to take the starting job from future Hall of Famer Martin Brodeur. On the opening day of free agency the Devils signed some sandpaper in Ryan Clowe, Rostislav Olesz and Michael Ryder and had the decision from Kovalchuk been made sooner the team would have taken a swing at a Jarome Iginla type player to fill the hole. It’s believed Jaromir Jagr is close to signing in New Jersey but as we’ve learned Jagr is a wildcard and has been linked to multiple teams already this offseason so take that with a pinch of salt. 

The reality going forward is there is going to be some rough times for the Devils and their fans. Can Clowe replace Clarkson? Can the rest of the forward core step up and ease the post Ilya transition? The New Jersey Devils are in big financial trouble as well and more questions than answers are swirling around Newark. 

In my opinion Kovalchuk has crippled the Devils for years to come. Barring some lopsided trade the Devils are in for a world of hurt. Combined with the teams financial troubles and the aging legend between the pipes it’s comparable to quick sand and the team is falling deeper and deeper. The salary relief from Ilya’s “retirement” helps the financials of the team but the cost to this franchise at least in the short term is pretty devastating and it couldn’t happen at a worse time.

Sochi is a go

The elite of the National Hockey League have the greenlight to participate in the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia. Canada will look to defend after a dramatic gold medal game against the United States in 2010 that saw Pittsburgh Captain Sidney Crosby bury the winner in overtime seen by the Vancouver crowd and millions at home setting up high expectations for the coming Olympics. 

Extensions and Trades

New deals for Chris Stewart in St Louis, Dustin Brown gets 8 years in Los Angeles, Matt Duchene gets 5 years in Colorado. Agitator Dan Carcillo was shipped to Los Angeles for a conditional pick in 2015. 

How much does Kovalchuks departure influence teams decisions to draft and acquire Russian born players? Is the stigma going to grow toward Russians? Discuss below

A die hard hockey fan whose first taste of hockey at age 4 was a combination of Sega’s NHL 94′ and the Cornwall Aces. Joe has been exposed to the sport for 20 years and it’s a bond that grows stronger every year. Joe can also be found at   To sponsor his column email

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