Greetings, Sports Headquarter-ers, and welcome to the wonderful world of hockey. I’m thrilled to be a part of The Sports Headquarters team and the new hockey writer.
I was originally planning on just giving a hello since I’m new to the site, but I figured it’d be better if I added some actual content. I’ll talk about something that’s been on my mind a bit lately: the New Jersey Devils.
2-6-1. There have been some teams that were expected to be good that have had some slow starts, but this is pretty terrible for an always solid Devils team. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that they’ll be this bad all year, but they’ve had some strange things happen so far that really make you wonder about what’s going on.
In their third game of the season, they could only dress 15 skaters. That’s 3 less skaters than a full lineup, which came down to a missing forward line. And recently, the Devils benched their $180 billion man, Ilya Kovalchuk as a healthy scratch. Really? By the way, they got blown out that game 6-1 by a Sabres team still trying to find itself.
Most people will point at Ilya Kovalchuk as the source of both of those problems. Personally, I thought it was a bad move. He doesn’t fit that Devils style of play they’re so famous (or infamous if you prefer) for. And while I’m not convinced he can’t turn his game around into more of a two way, trapping style, it’s just a whole lot of money for a very long time. Obviously if the Devils are going to scratch Kovalchuk, they’re not afraid to send a message, but when the team has a -15 goal differential after only 9 games, it means that they’re not losing by a little each time and that it’s not the fault of just one player.
And here’s another thing I’m not convinced of: Ilya Kovalchuk’s contract is root of the salary cap problem. Yes, it’s a huge cap hit, but at least it’s a (potentially) productive cap hit. Who’s cap hit is $5.0625 million and isn’t going to live up to that in terms of production? That would be Brian Rolston. He’s also got a No Trade clause and is on a 35 and older contract, which means that unless the Devils can not only find someone willing to take on his salary but also that team be a one that Rolston is willing to go to, they’re screwed with his cap hit for another year after this season’s over. Erasing that hit would have allowed the Devils to have added a few quality forwards to their roster, and only one of whom could have equaled Rolston’s production.
It’s early, and I think the Devils will get better as the season progresses, but it’s still pretty interesting. The Devils missing the playoffs this year would be embarrassing to a franchise that is so used to success.