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2010 New Jersey Devils Season Preview

October 8, 2010 by admin


By Brian Deakyne

It wasn’t easy, and it certainly didn’t come without a price, but this past off-season, the New Jersey Devils signed explosive wingman Ilya Kovalchuk to a 15-year, $100M contract that will plant #17 in New Jersey until the year 2025.

After the National Hockey League voided the first contract of 17 years/$102 million, the Devils were slammed with a $3 million fine, loss of next year’s third-round pick in the NHL draft and a loss of a first-round pick in one of the next four years, at the Devils choosing.

After the Devils acquired Kovalchuk last year, he scored 10 goals and added 17 assists, averaging a point-per-game in his 27 regular season games with the Devils.

In New Jersey’s brief playoff-run last spring, Kovalchuk scored twice in the five games and was the biggest factor on a team that struggled once the post-season hit.

With the signing of arguably one of the league’s best players, “Jersey’s Team” made one more shocking move, moving ‘Kovy’ to a new position: right wing.

For the duration of his nine-year career, Kovalchuk has been a dominating left wing, giving him the room and options to cut across the ice, beat the goalie either short side or far-post, and also the room to create chances for his teammates.

Now, things are changing.

With the move, New Jersey has set-up what may very well be the most dangerous line in the National Hockey League, with ‘Kovy’, Zach Parise at left wing and Travis Zajac at center, two players who have been line mates virtually their entire careers.

Last season, Parise was impressive, notching 38 goals and 44 assists, totaling 82 points. Zajac lit the lamp 25 times and added 42 helpers, giving him 67 points, a good number for a true center. Kovalchuk topped them all with 85 points on 41 goals and 44 assists.

What may be the most impressive of their statistics, however, is they all played in at least 76 regular season games out of the possible 82, making them constant threats night after night in a physically-enduring season.

On the defensive side, the Devils broke even this off-season. New Jersey lost long-time Devils d-man Paul Martin left after six solid seasons for the division-foe Pittsburgh Penguins. On the flip-side of things, what they lost in Martin, they picked up with the signing of Anton Volchenkov, a big-bodied defensemen out of Russia who can play the body better than any current defensemen in black and red. New Jersey also acquired Henrik Tallinder, a talented blue-liner that can help stabilize the Devils defense.

The Devils also acquired goalie Johan Hedberg, who could be key down the stretch to give future Hall-of-Fame goaltender Martin Broduer some rest before yet another postseason run.

Bottom Line: The Devils are a team that has always been traced as a defense-first squad, especially with the likes of Brodeur and blue-liners Scott Stevens and Ken Dayneko. However, New Jersey hasn’t won the Stanley Cup since 2003 and hasn’t even made a serious impact in the playoffs since then, only advancing to the second-round once. Now, for the first time in franchise history, the Devils has a chance to be offensive-minded, and, in an new NHL where offense wins out, that may not be a bad idea. New Jersey has never had a player score 50 goals or reach 100 points, but this year, with that top line of Parise,Zajac and Kovalchuk, they may even have two people to reach either of those accolades. In 2010-2011, look for the Devils to score goals quickly and often, and well, the defense will just take care of the rest.

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