Ilya Kovalchuk USA Today


Fantasy Impact: Ilya Kovalchuk announced his retirement from the NHL today. At the age of 30, Kovalchuk will go down as one of the best pure scorers in the history of the game.


The Devils lose:


One of the best forwards (and, more recently, two-way forwards) in hockey. Kovalchuk is big and strong, and he is also incredibly elusive. His one-timer is rivaled by only a handful of players, and he was the Captain and (by far) best player on the Devils roster. Not many players have combined power (he played at over 230 pounds) and finesse better than Kovalchuk in the history of the sport.


The cap recapture penalty (because of Kovalchuk’s back-diving contract) will hit New Jersey to the tune of $250,000 through the 2024-25 season. If Kovalchuk had retired next summer, that amount would have jumped up to $700,000.


And this:

 While he will get paid a lot of money to go over and play in the KHL, this wasn’t a financial decision. He is leaving close to $80 million on the table here. This is obviously the case of a player who wants to return home to raise his family and live in an environment he is more comfortable with.


Kovalchuk would have eclipsed the 500 goal mark within the next few years (and he would perhaps be there already if not for the previous two lockouts). He will be missed by the Devils and NHL fans in general - don't forget, Kovalchuk is only a year removed from leading the NHL postseason in scoring.


And while the Devils get a lot of cap space, they still aren’t completely off the hook:


Kovalchuk’s original deal with the Devils was for 17 years and US$102 million. It was ruled cap circumvention by the NHL because Kovalchuk would have been 44 years old when it was over.


The Devils must forfeit their 2014 first-round pick as punishment for the circumvention after they opted to keep their selections in 2012 and 2013. They will also be charged $250,000 against the salary cap through 2024-25 as a result of Kovalchuk’s retirement.


Fantasy Players Impacted:


Would the Devils have re-signed David Clarkson knowing what they know now? Clarkson did leave money on the table from Edmonton to go to Toronto, so perhaps it was the case of a player wanting to play at home (but still in the NHL, unlike Mr. Kovalchuk).


This opens up a lot of cap space – Damien Brunner, perhaps? The Devils will definitely be players on the open market for a winger or two.


Potential line combos (as of right now):


Elias – Zajac – Ryder

Clowe – Henrique – Zubrus

Tedenby – Loktionov – Matteau

Carter – Gionta – Bernier




I’d expect New Jersey to add at least one more top nine forward.


I don’t really see this helping anyone, as Kovalchuk was a huge facilitator on offense for the Devils. Perhaps Matteau if he can crack the roster, or Ryder if he is given more ice time on the top line. The Devils are pretty thin on the right side right now.


Fantasy Players this helps, in order:


1. Ryder

2. Zubrus

3. Reid Boucher (long term)

4. Matteau (although he is more likely to play LW or C)


Fantasy Players this hurts, in order:


1. Zajac

2. Elias

3. Loktionov

4. Zidlicky

5. Any other Devil, really


Good luck in Russia, Kovy:


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Comments (11)add comment

tomekz1283 said:

... @Pengwin7, why was Kovalchuck constantly on the penalty kill? I've watched him skate for three years in new jersey and he played on a PK that was ranked pretty high on the all time list.
July 12, 2013
Votes: +0

Pengwin7 said:

. Kovalchuk has never been a two-way forward.
There have been articles in the past that talk him up that way, simply because his management has "talked him up".
But, really, it's the same way you praise a kid for potty-training purely hoping that the praise will continue to have them focus on... potty-training.

Kovalchuk has never, ever maintained a two-way hockey style.
Teammates tire of playing with primadonnas like this that get all the accolades and don't contribute in all aspects of the game.

Calling Kovalchuk a two-way hockey player is a regurgitation of previously published articles and not a reflection of his actual game for any extended period of his career. Thumbs down on including that very inaccurate phrase in a first sentence description of his hockey person. smilies/sad.gif
July 12, 2013
Votes: +0

Shoeless said:

Hurts? The NHL to lose a star l;ike this - the guy could flat out score and that is fun to watch. Been a fun 11 years watching him.
July 11, 2013
Votes: +2

coldsquad2002 said:

... Wonder if this is just the start of the trend. Will others follow ?
Will NHL teams gamble first round picks on Russians ?
July 11, 2013
Votes: +1

coldsquad2002 said:

... Got into a arguement with a coworker today. I said he is likely KHL bound. He said he cannot retire and go play in the KHL.
I said why not ? He brought up the Radulov situation. I said it is different as Radulov did not retire. Wonder what he will say tomorrow lol
July 11, 2013
Votes: +1

angus said:

... Long term this helps NJ. Short term it kills them.
July 11, 2013
Votes: +1

raylinke said:

... With those lines they could finish dead last and that pick could be the FIRST OVERALL.

Talk about getting screwed on the deal though as they get busted for the first deal redo it and are now paying for another 10 years for what, a few years of Kovo playing for them.
July 11, 2013
Votes: +0

rtstr said:

... Kovalchuk was not Captain. Salvador is the Captain.
July 11, 2013
Votes: +0

bitterwingsfan said:

... Good thing I won my league this past year. There goes my best winger...

But aside from leaving a hole in my fantasy line up, look at those lines for NJ... good luck to the Devils trying to fix that, and no first rounder next season. Ouch.
July 11, 2013
Votes: +0

behindthegeek said:

... 1998-2001 have been bad years for first overall picks:

1998: Lecavalier: bought out
1999: Stefan: bust
2000: DiPietro: bought out (and bust)
2001: Kovalchuk: retired
July 11, 2013
Votes: +2

TheZamboniGuy said:

... O Man ! After this any Russian player incoming in draft wil be take 25 picks later because of the russain factor.
July 11, 2013
Votes: -1
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