Kovalchuk Press Conference 2

The Real Cost of Ilya Kovalchuk

While reading through some Devils-related stories the other day, one blog post I came across drew my eye. In The Fire and Ice Blog, written by Tom Gulitti of the Bergen Record, one part of a particular post rang some alarms. While reading about the league’s fines on the Devils, Gulitti decided to post a “running tally” on how much Ilya Kovalchuk has cost the Devils franchise so far. As of Monday, the cost was only growing, and in the end, the Devils may pay Kovalchuk far more than the $100 million contract he signed.

So far, Kovalchuk has cost the Devils more than just money. On top of the $103 million its cost the Devils ($100 million contract, $3 million fine), the Devils have also surrendered four draft picks, two of which are first-round selections. The Devils also traded Johnny Oduya, Niclas Bergfors and Patrice Cormier in the February trade that brought Kovalchuk to New Jersey. That’s just the player and monetary aspect of the signing.

The Devils also lost credibility throughout the summer during this signing. The team spent an entire summer in the headlines, and many of them were notably negative. The league used this contract as a jump-off point to renegotiate the CBA, eliminating these types of deals. Worse, the Devils were caught looking ridiculous for the entire summer. Everyone respects Lou Lamoriello, but his credibility – and his relationship with the league – definitely took a hit in this process.

Just think – all of this for a player who has yet to win a playoff series. And those things above are still the running tally. The Devils still need to shed cap space, probably losing two more players. And remember that left-winger Zach Parise is a restricted free agent and will need to be signed.

I’m not saying the Devils made a mistake in signing Kovalchuk to a deal. His offensive potential is limitless, and with John MacLean at the helm, the left-winger should begin to show his scoring abilities. If he can fulfill that potential, the Devils will have two of the best scorers in the game on their bench, giving them a huge lift over other clubs around the league.

The expectations and pressures to perform are already on Kovalchuk. As his real cost continues to rise, so will the pressure to perform at a high level night in and night out. The Devils have made an immense investment in Kovalchuk, and we will all expect a solid – if not spectacular – return on the investment.

Photo Credit: Jennifer Brown/The Star-Ledger

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