DEVILS FUNK: The New Jersey Devils are in disarray, off to a 2-7-1 start. Through ten games, the Devils have failed to develop any kind of momentum and things went for the worse last weekend.
$100 million dollar man Ilya Kovalchuk was a healthy scratch on Saturday night against the Buffalo Sabres, after being a few minutes late for a team meeting and the Devils were later embarrassed on home ice, losing to the Sabres 6-1 and followed up that game with a 3-1 loss on the road to the New York Rangers Sunday night.
An interesting side note on the Kovalchuk decision is that head coach John MacLean never consulted with management about the decision to make Kovalchuk a healthy scratch.
The Devils have struggled in just about every area. They have scored just 17 goals on the season, tied for the fewest in the league and they have given up 35 goals in 10 games.
Not only are the cap issues hanging over the team but this is a team that appears old at a number of key positions.
At the forward position, top-6 players such as Patrick Eilas (34 yrs old), Jamie Langenbrunner (34 yrs old), Jason Arnott (35 yrs old) are all on the wrong side of 30 and clearly on the downside of their careers.
Elias, Lagenbrunner and Arnott carry a combined cap hit of $13.3 million and have combined for 13 points and a horrific minus-26 rating in 10 games.
Goaltender Martin Brodeur is 38 years old as the Devils window of opportunity is dwindling and as constructed, there are doubts that they can suddenly turn into a contender. General manager Lou Lamoriello has surrounded an old team around Brodeur over the past couple years.
Many look at Ilya Kovalchuk’s deal as the reason that New Jersey is in their dire cap situation but it’s the overpaying of 30 year old + players that is the main culprit.
At the top of the Devils cap problems is Brian Rolston’s 5.062 million cap hit who was surprisingly given a four year deal following the 2007-2008 season.
Patrik Elias | Age 34: | Cap Hit: $6MM | Signed Through: 2012-2013|
Martin Brodeur | Age 38: | Cap Hit: $5.2MM | Signed Through: 2011-2012|
Brian Rolston | Age: 38 | Cap Hit: $5.062MM | Signed Through: 2011-2012|
Jason Arnott | Age: 35 | Cap Hit: $4.5MM | Signed Through: 2010-2011|
Dainius Zubrus | Age: 32 | Cap Hit: $3.4MM | Signed Through: 2012-2013|
Henrik Tallinder | Age: 31 | Cap Hit: $3.35MM | Signed Through: 2013-2014|
Colin White | Age: 32 | Cap Hit: $3MM | Signed Through: 2011-2012|
Bryce Salvador | Age 34: | Cap Hit: $2.9MM | Signed Through: 2011-2012|
Jamie Lagenbrunner | Age: 34 | Cap Hit: $2.8MM | Signed Through: 2010-2011|
The Devils have $33.312 million committed to 9 players 31 years old or older for the 2010-2011 season. Pittsburgh by contrast has $5.05 million committed to 5 players 31 or older and a combined total of only $10.375 million committed to players 30 and older.
Defensively, the Devils are a mess. Not having Anton Volchenkov and Bryce Salvador hurts but this is a flawed group, even with Volchenkov and Salvador.
Henrik Tallinder is an “Okay” defenseman but he’s getting exposed on a nightly basis against the oppositions top lines.
Capitals won’t run away with the East: Come April, the Washington Capitals in all likelyhood will be the No. 1 or No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference. A strong chance they end up being the No. 1 seed again.
However, don’t look for the Capitals to run away with the East like they did last regular season. They face a much tougher division in 2010-2011. Tampa Bay, Carolina, Atlanta and even Florida are going to be a tough out just about every night.
Hossa key for the Hawks: A key player for the Chicago Blackhawks remaining a top contender in the Western Conference is Marian Hossa. Due to injuries, Hossa did not play like an elite player in the Blackhawks Cup winning season.
This season he appears back to his 40 goal scoring forum and the Blackhawks are getting significant production from Hossa (7G-4A) and Patrick Sharp who leads the team with 9 goals and 12 points on the season.
Despite such a roster turnover, if Chicago gets the kind of offensive production from their elite players like they should, Chicago won’t take much of a step back.
Attendance Problems: 6,706 paying customers in Phoenix last Thursday and record lows in Columbus and Atlanta last week. Phoenix’s Saturday night attendance was listed as 8,189 paying customers.
Only 9,802 paying customers in Columbus Wednesday night for Jackets-Ducks. On the same night, Atlanta had just 8,820 paying customers.