It’s been a whirlwind of activity the first two days of training camp for the New Jersey Devils. The team has welcomed back its veterans and a familiar face as the new head coach. The team also brought in three players on a tryout basis, and got a look at some its rookies. But one of the more intriguing developments from camp was news that coach John MacLean formed a “super” line, putting together Zach Parise, Travis Zajac and Ilya Kovalchuk on the same line. While MacLean wouldn’t commit to the move being anything other than training camp tinkering, the possibility is now at the forefront of camp – could the Devils trot out a “super” line of Parise, Zajac and Kovalchuk during the regular season?
The combination would involve a big change for Kovalchuk. The career left-winger would shift to the right wing, somewhere he’s unfamiliar playing. Helping in the transition is the fact that Kovalchuk is a right-handed shot. Also, during the course of a game, wingers will switch sides on the ice, so one winger will never exclusively play on the left or right wings.
When asked about the shift, Kovalchuk said it’s nothing different.
“It’s pretty much the same, but I’ll need a couple of days and a couple of games to adjust and I told (Parise) if I’m going to be on his side, just let me know and I will go back on the right.”
Parise didn’t believe the change would be difficult for Kovalchuk.
“It’s basically just for faceoffs,” he said. “You guys know how it is. Once the puck is dropped, you’ve got to be creative. It’s for faceoffs and breakouts pretty much, but after that it’s all reacting. Sometimes wingers end up playing center. We’ve got to be smart…It’s not the 70s anymore where you’re skating up and down one wing. You’re going up and down the ice. You need structure, you need to know where you’re going in the defensive zone, but if I end up on the right side on certain plays then that’s fine.”
If this move is something MacLean decides to stick with, the Devils first line will bring a ton of firepower to the ice. Parise, Zajac and Kovalchuk combined for 234 points last season. As we saw last year, Zajac can light the lamp, but he can also distribute the puck effectively, meaning that both Kovalchuk and Parise should have ample chances to score. Both wingers had 44 assists last season as well, showing that they are willing to move the puck.
Any fan looking at this can only salivate at the opportunities. But remember that the line would have to develop chemistry, and that could take some time. The move by MacLean helps to clear the left-wing clutter and opens the door for Patrik Elias and Jason Arnott to play on a line together. That gives the Devils two big scoring lines, and that would be difficult for most teams to cover.
We’ll see if MacLean decides to keep this “Super” Line together, but if he does, the possibilities are endless.
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