Devil of a Mess in New Jersey
This week we learned the punishment for going against the establishment, and it was harsh indeed. The continuing saga of Ilya Kovalchuk took yet another turn on Monday when the NHL announced they would fine the New Jersey Devils $3 million plus revoke their 2011 3rd round pick and a future 1st round pick which has to be taken from one of the next 4 years.
Under the revised CBA, this would seem like an appropriate punishment, however the perceived injustice took place prior to the CBA being reworked by Bettman and his henchmen.
The whole matter stems from the 17 year $102 million front loaded contract that Kovalchuk signed and then later had voided.
On the surface the punishment does not fit the crime, not only are they being reprimanded for something that didn’t come to fruition anyway, but the Devils were just acting on a loophole which existed in the CBA, one which has been exploited for a few years now, until the Devils put egg on the NHL’s face by offering such a lucrative deal.
The problems go deeper though. The question is what does New Jersey do now. They have a gifted and explosive offensive talent, but will be required to jettison a player or two just to fit Kovalchuk in under the salary cap. In the end you have to ask yourself is it worth it? Yes signing Kovalchuk will no doubt help the Devils ignite their usually feeble offense, but if one of the important support players has to be moved they team may be no better off than they were before the acquisition.
Whether it is Travis Zajac, Jamie Langenbrunner, Bryce Salvador or Brian Rolston, someone has to be moved out of town just to fit Kovalchuk on the roster, not to mention needing cap space to account for injuries throughout the season.
Combine this with an aging Martin Brodeur, the loss of a third rounder and the loss of a future 1st rounder and it would appear that New Jersey has created for themselves a rather shaky situation for their future. Who knows what the cap will be 2, 3 or 15 years from now? Devils fans should enjoy this experiment while they can, because in the long run Lou Lamoriello could find himself in a Devil of a mess.