Would signing Ilya Kovalchuk cost the NJ Devils Zach Parise in the future?

kovyandparise.jpgMost reports indicate that the New Jersey Devils and Los Angeles Kings are in a two-horse race for Ilya Kovalchuk (well, I guess it might be a three team contest if you count the KHL, in general).

The problem is, players like Kovalchuk take a lot of pieces of the salary cap pie. Tom Gulitti of Fire & Ice points out that signing Kovalchuk could impact the Devils’ ability to retain their other high-end forward, Zach Parise.

“I’m not thinking about that too much,” he told me today. “Right now, it’s more to the point of what’s going to help us win next year and the year after. A guy like (Kovalchuk) will help us. I guess we’ll see what happens after that.”

Thinking about the Devils’ chances of winning, Parise would be happy if Kovlachuk decides to re-sign.

“He’s someone that can help us,” Parise said. “He scores 40 a year. I don’t care who you are. Any guy that scored 40 goals a year and 85-90 points, that’s a good player anywhere. So, if we’re able to get him to come back, that will be good for us.”

Still, re-signing Kovalchuk will take a chunk of money. Fitting in both Kovalchuk and Parise on long-term deals will take some cap creativity from the Devils.

So, Kovalchuk’s contract – if he re-signs-could have a direct impact on Parise’s future as a Devil – and how long it might last.

Right now, the Devils have about $4.2 million in cap space committed to 19 players. They’d obviously have to make a move or two to clear up room for him, even if he doesn’t get the huge $10 million annual salary he wants.

But would the Devils be able to afford Parise and Kovalchuk going forward? Right now, Parise is in the last year of his super-bargain $3.1 million per year cap hit, a deal I’d say is the best contract outside of CBA-mandated entry-level deals. He’ll be a restricted free agent next summer.

New Jersey has 12 players under contract next year, with about $17.58 million to lock up 10-11 players. Kovalchuk and Parise’s raise ($3.1 million + ?) would take a considerable chunk of that remainder.

Would that be doable? Technically, if the Devils could move people around to sign Kovalchuk this summer, they could probably make it fit. But the question is whether or not they’d have enough cash to put a decent supporting cast around them. Jamie Langenbrunner and Andy Greene’s contracts are up that same summer and you could assume both of them would ask for money, too.

If you ask me, I’d much rather keep Parise than Kovalchuk. Even if the Devils can keep both, will they be able to win in the future with a threadbare group around them? I have my doubts, but we’ll take a closer look if we see specific details. No doubt about it, though, adding Kovalchuk would make the currently cheap Parise very hard to keep.

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    Canucks say Markstrom (hamstring) out another week — could it be longer?

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    Bit of uncertainty out of Vancouver regarding the health of backup goalie Jacob Markstrom.

    Markstrom, a late drop from the Canucks’ 5-1 opening-night win over Calgary, has suffered a hamstring injury that will keep him sidelined for another week, the club announced on Thursday.

    With Markstrom out, backup duties will stay with AHL call-up Richard Bachman, who served as Ryan Miller‘s No. 2 on Wednesday.

    Now, the focus turns to how long Bachman keeps those duties.

    Per a Sportsnet report, Markstrom could miss up to three weeks of action with his injury. If that’s the case, Bachman will almost certainly be called into action; the Canucks will play eight games in 17 nights starting with Saturday’s home-opener against the Flames, which includes back-to-backs in Los Angeles and Anaheim on Oct. 12 and 13.

    It would be asking a lot of the No. 1, 35-year-old Ryan Miller, to shoulder that entire load.

    Bachman does have some NHL experience, with nearly 50 games to his credit. That includes a 3-2-0 record with the Oilers last year, in which he posted a 2.84 GAA and .911 save percentage.

    McDavid will center Hall and Slepyshev

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    ST. LOUIS (AP) Edmonton Oilers rookie Connor McDavid said he didn’t have any trouble falling asleep on the eve of his professional debut.

    But when he woke up on Thursday he said it finally hit him.

    “In the days leading up I wasn’t really thinking about it too much,” McDavid said. “Kind of when I woke up this morning, I guess that’s kind of when it hit me that I’ll be playing in my first NHL game. I think that’s when I first realized.”

    When the Oilers play at the St. Louis Blues on Thursday night, all eyes will be on the 18-year-old McDavid, the No. 1 overall pick in the draft and the most hyped player to enter the NHL since Sidney Crosby of the Penguins made his debut a decade ago.

    Speaking in front of a crowd of reporters on Thursday following his team’s morning skate, the soft-spoken rookie admitted to having some butterflies but said he felt pretty good and was excited to get going.

    “It’s just special,” McDavid said of his NHL debut. “I’m living out my dream, so there’s nothing better than that. I’m just really looking forward to tonight.”

    McDavid will be centering the Oilers’ second line against the Blues with Taylor Hall on the left wing and Anton Slepyshev on the right. Hall was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2010 draft, while Slepyshev will also be making his NHL debut on Thursday night.

    “We all see what he can do in practice and the games,” Hall said of McDavid. “It’s important to remember he’s 18. I’m 23 and I still have bad games. Sidney Crosby is the best player in the world and still has bad games. There’s going to be some trials and some errors, but I think that he’s in a position to succeed and it’s going to be fun to watch him grow.”

    Oilers coach Todd McLellan, hired in May after spending seven seasons with the San Jose Sharks, has already gotten accustomed to receiving questions about McDavid.

    The first few questions McLellan was asked on Thursday were about the NHL’s most popular newcomer.

    “What I’ve found with him is he’s working really hard to just be himself and fit in,” the coach said. “He doesn’t want to be special, he doesn’t want to be treated any differently but he obviously is. He’s trying to adapt to that and he’s doing a very good job of it personally and collectively I think our team has done a good job around him.”

    McLellan said there are three levels of pressure surrounding him.

    The first is McDavid’s individual expectations, which he is sure are extremely high. The second comes from the rookie’s teammates, coaching staff, organization and city of Edmonton.

    “But where it really changes is the national, international and world-wide eyes being on him,” McLellan said. “How does that compare to some of the other players I’ve been around? I haven’t been around an 18-year-old who has had to deal with that. It’s new to all of us.

    “I did spend some time talking to Sid (Sidney Crosby) about his experience and even since then the world’s really changed as far as media and social media and that type of stuff. This is a new adventure for everybody involved. I know Connor has the tools to handle the pressure and we’ll do everything we can to help him.”