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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    Sheary’s in for Penguins in Game 2; Kunitz is a game-time decision

    Pittsburgh Penguins' Conor Sheary (43) is greeted by teammates Brian Dumoulin (8) and Chris Kunitz (14) after scoring his first NHL goal, in the first period of the Penguins' hockey game against the Boston Bruins, Friday, Dec. 18, 2015, in Pittsburgh. Bruins' Brad Marchand is at lower right. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)
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    Both the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals might look a little different in Game 2 on Saturday after that blistering Game 1.

    As the team down 1-0, it’s not too surprising that the Penguins boast the more significant lineup questions, although they lean toward health concerns rather than performance tweaks.

    Conor Sheary was able to return during Game 1 after Tom Wilson‘s controversial knee-to-knee hit, and he appears to be in for tonight’s contest as well. Chris Kunitz isn’t quite a guarantee, as he’s currently labeled a game-time decision.

    For what it’s worth, Kunitz himself believes he’ll be in. Whether he plays on Saturday or not, it sounds like Kunitz is taking extra safety measures going forward.

    The Penguins stayed vague with Marc-Andre Fleury, merely claiming that he’s making “progress.”

    Generally speaking, Matt Murray has been playing well for the Penguins. Of course, the scrutiny will rise if Pittsburgh loses Game 2 on Saturday.

    The Capitals are also considering a tweak. CSN Mid-Atlantic reports that Barry Trotz is pondering replacing Dmitry Orlov with Taylor Chorney.

    “They told me to be prepared as if I’m going to be playing,” Chorney said. “We’ll just see how it goes.”

    As you may notice, Chorney isn’t the only one in wait-and-see mode heading into Game 2, which you can watch on NBC.

    Hitchcock, Blues know they need to slow down the Stars … but can they?

    The puck shot by Dallas Stars left wing Antoine Roussel crosses the goal line as St. Louis Blues goalie Brian Elliott (1) and defenseman Jay Bouwmeester (19) attempt the stop during the second period of Game 1 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Western Conference semifinals, Friday, April 29, 2016, in Dallas. The Stars won 2-1. (Tom Fox/The Dallas Morning News via AP)
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    The Dallas Stars only beat the St. Louis Blues by one goal (2-1) in Game 1, but the feeling is that the score was deceptively close.

    Blame it on fatigue from that epic series against the Chicago Blackhawks or not; the Blues looked out of rhythm and out of breath against the hard-charging Stars.

    At least they’re not in denial about that, though.

    “We’re not going to beat anybody giving up 40 shots on goal,” Blues coach Ken Hitchcock told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch after their Game 1 loss on Friday. “We’re not going to beat anybody giving up the scoring chances we did today.”

    Hitchcock added “we’ve got to find the energy to play our game, and we’ve got to find it quickly in the next 48 hours.”

    Allowing 40 shots on goal might not be that common for the Blues, yet they leaned heavily on Brian Elliott against the Blackhawks in that series.

    Just look at the SOG comparison in that series and in Game 1 vs. Dallas:

    Game 1: Blues – 18 SOG, Blackhawks – 35
    Game 2: Blues – 31, Blackhawks – 29
    Game 3: Blues – 36, Blackhawks – 46
    Game 4: Blues – 20, Blackhawks – 42
    Game 5: Blues – 46, Blackhawks – 35
    Game 6: Blues – 28, Blachawks – 36
    Game 7: Blues – 26, Blackhawks – 33

    Game 1: Blues – 32, Stars – 42

    Such shot comparisons make you wonder if Game 1 provided evidence of a rest advantage or if this might just be the state of affairs for the Blues (at least against two electric offenses).

    One area to watch is the transition game. The Stars seemed to tear through the neutral zone while the Blues sometimes struggled to get things going.

    “They’re a team that wants to play real fast up the ice and through the neutral zone,” Jay Bouwmeester said, via the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “Yeah, we didn’t do a very good job of slowing them down. A lot of their chances were off the rush. That’s what you want to take away from them.”

    File that under “easier said than done.”

    Gather your lucky charms, 2016 NHL Draft Lottery is tonight

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    Honestly, it’s tough to blame people for making Edmonton Oilers jokes in regards to the 2016 NHL Draft Lottery.

    Really it’s only human nature to drop one-liners about the perennial cellar-dweller that (seemingly) always lands the No. 1 pick.

    Will it happen again this time around? We’ll find out soon enough, more precisely sometime around 8 p.m. ET on NBC.

    As you can see, the Oilers do not have the best odds to land the top pick … but they’re close:

    A reminder: this time around the lottery will determine the top three picks. The NHL discusses that tweak and other changes here:

    For the first time, the 2016 NHL Draft Lottery will assign the top three slots in the first round of the NHL Draft – a change from prior years, when the Draft Lottery was used to determine the winner of the first overall selection exclusively.

    Want the full lowdown on the 2016 NHL Draft Lottery? PHT has you covered here.

    Here’s your Stanley Cup playoffs schedule for tonight

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    The Stanley Cup playoffs continue with two games on Saturday. You can catch tonight’s games via the NBC Sports Group’s television and digital platforms.

    NY Islanders at Tampa Bay (3:00 p.m. ET)

    The TV broadcast of Game 2 will be on NBC. To stream the game using the NBC Sports Live Extra app, click here.

    Pittsburgh at Washington (8:00 p.m. ET)

    The TV broadcast of Game 2 will also be on NBC. To stream the game using the NBC Sports Live Extra app, click here.

    Some reading to get you pumped up:

    – The Penguins are keeping chatty Marc-Andre Fleury from speaking to the media (reportedly).

    Tom Wilson received a fine, not a suspension, for that knee-to-knee hit.

    T.J. Oshie was the difference-maker for Washington in Game 1.

    – Don’t expect Steven Stamkos to face red-hot John Tavares anytime soon (or at all, maybe).

    Read about the Isles’ Game 1 win.