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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    BREAKING: Isles acquire Eberle from Edmonton for Strome

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    Everyone knew this was going to be a massive offseason for Islanders GM Garth Snow.

    And Snow has now responded in kind.

    Per TSN, the Isles are on the verge of acquiring Jordan Eberle from Edmonton. No word yet on what’s headed to New York in return. Sportsnet has confirmed the move, saying all involved parties are being informed of the move.

    Update: Ryan Strome headed to Edmonton in exchange, per Darren Dreger.

    The move comes after weeks of speculation about Eberle’s future with the Oilers. He had a solid regular season in Edmonton, with 20 goals and 51 points through 82 games, but struggled mightily in the postseason. He went scoreless through 13 games, finishing with just two points while watching his ice time dwindle to 14:32 per night.

    Eberle is still a quality offensive talent, though, and should be thrilled about the prospect of playing with Isles captain John Tavares. Tavares, in turn, will undoubtedly be pleased with Snow’s bold move to bring in additional scoring up front, which could go a long way towards signing an extension with the Isles.

    It’s safe to assume Oilers GM Peter Chiarelli will feel some heat for this deal. While he did get out from under Eberle’s contract — $6 million annually for each of the next two years — Strome is coming off a disappointing year, and was exposed by the Isles at last night’s expansion draft.

    That said, Chiarelli does have bigger fish to fry. Connor McDavid is eligible to sign an extension this summer, as is Leon Draisaitl.

    Needless to say, those contracts are going to be expensive.

    Losing Neal to Vegas was a ‘pretty big price to pay’ for Predators

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    The Vegas Golden Knights named their team on Wednesday, and it was no surprise that James Neal was among their selections in the expansion draft.

    Why not? Since entering the league in 2008, Neal has scored at least 20 goals in each of his nine seasons, hitting the 40-goal mark in 2011-12 as a member of the Pittsburgh Penguins.

    But after coming up two wins shy of a Stanley Cup this spring, Neal was left unprotected by the Predators.

    Predators general manager David Poile had reportedly been in talks with Vegas GM George McPhee, but a deal couldn’t be achieved.

    “With how well we played in the playoffs, I’d certainly like to bring everybody back, but the prices [to make a deal with Vegas] were very high,” Poile told the Predators website.

    “[McPhee] was looking for younger players or high draft picks, and at the end of the day, I just felt that we had to do what the Expansion Draft was set out to do and that was to lose a player. In this case, we lost James Neal and that’s a pretty big price to pay.”

    Neal has one more year left on his six-year contract that has an annual cap hit of $5 million, before he’s a pending unrestricted free agent at the end of next season.

    Nashville has about $22.7 million in cap space, per CapFriendly, but five pending restricted free agents — Austin Watson, Frederick Gaudreau, Pontus Aberg and most notably Ryan Johansen and Viktor Arvidsson — in need of contracts. In Arvidsson’s case, he’s due for a significant raise from the $640,000 he made in NHL salary last season, in which he scored 31 goals and 61 points.

    “James had a much bigger contract and he only had one year left before he was an unrestricted free agent. We didn’t have any negotiations, but there was no guarantees that we would be able to keep him. It really was a business decision. It was as simple as that,” Poile the Tennessean.

    Caps re-sign Christian Djoos, who could get his NHL shot next season

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    The Washington Capitals have re-signed defenseman Christian Djoos to a two-year, $1.3 million contract.

    It’s a two-way deal in 2017-18, and a one-way deal the following season.

    Djoos, 22, is expected to push for an NHL spot next season, along with Madison Bowey and possibly Tyler Lewington.

    That’s because Karl Alzner and Kevin Shattenkirk, both unrestricted free agents, aren’t expected to re-sign with Washington.

    On top of that, the Caps lost d-man Nate Schmidt in yesterday’s expansion draft.

    Djoos, a seventh-round pick in 2012, had 13 goals and 45 assists in 66 games for AHL Hershey this past season.

    It was his second full season in the AHL.

    Bettman says NHL will call more slashes next season

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    Commissioner Gary Bettman says the NHL will look to enforce slashing penalties more next season.

    Following the league’s board of governors meeting, Bettman said pointless slashes to players’ hands will be called more. Ottawa’s Marc Methot and Calgary’s Johnny Gaudreau were among the players to miss time last season with hand injuries from slashes.

    Related PHT coverage:

    Gaudreau (finger) out six weeks, Treliving says Staal slash the culprit

    — Flames made ‘mountain out of a molehill’ over Gaudreau slash

    — Methot ‘out for weeks’ after suffering a shattered finger from Crosby slash

    — Melnyk blasts ‘whiner’ Crosby, who won’t face hearing for Methot slash