New Jersey Devils preview

Overview: With all the talk about the Ilya Kovalchuk contract/non-contract debate over the summer, many people never bothered to focus on exactly what Kovalchuk brings to the team.

The Devils have a great nucleus in place, with Travis Zajac and Zach Parise representing the talented youth players, Jason Arnott and Patrick Elias representing the experienced players, and Marty Brodeur backing everyone up.

The only thing they’re missing is an offensive defenceman. While the Devils can have Kovalchuk on the point for the full two minutes during a powerplay, it’s the rest of the time when they are lacking. There’s no one who can give that breakout pass, or anyone with a booming shot from the point on the rush. They’re strong defensive defencemen, but that’s about it.

Best offseason move: Signing Ilya Kovalchuk. Who cares about the length of the deal, or the amount of money? Kovalchuk is money. He’s scored at least 40 goals every single season of his career except for his rookie season, when he had 29. He’s hit 50 goals twice. He was the only reason people watched Thrashers games. He’s exciting on the ice. Even if Kovalchuk is good for only 10 years of the contract, this was a good signing.

Worst offseason move: Giving Anton Volchenkov too many years. Yes, he’s a hitting and shot-blocking machine. But he’s also 28 years old going on 47. He misses more and more games every year, and he can’t score. I once compared him to Hal Gill, but without the offensive talent. About three years from now, he’ll be missing half the season as his body breaks down more and more. Nice signing, but it was too long.

Dark horse trophy candidate: Zach Parise for the Rocket Richard

Pool pick: Jason Arnott. After spending a few seasons in the city where offence goes to die (Nashville), Arnott will be centring the second line in New Jersey. He’ll be on a line with good offensive players, and won’t be the main concern of the other teams’ defensive players. Who to stay away from: Brian Rolston. A few years back, he was good for 60 points. Now, with so many other offensive talents, he’ll probably be on the third line in a more checking-type role.

Sporcle quiz: Can you name the New Jersey Devils leaders?

Best hall of fame choice: Martin Brodeur. The easiest choice of any team in the league. All-time leader in wins and shutouts. Has three Stanley Cup rings. Has two Olympic gold medals. Four Vezina trophies. A Calder trophy. etc etc. If the league were to disband right now, and they could only put one person in the hall of fame, it would be Brodeur.

Blog to follow: In Lou We Trust

My Prediction: Second in the Atlantic, fifth in the East

Famous celebrity from that city: Sunny (aka Tammy Lynn Sytch)


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