The twists and turns of NHL free agency are a wicked and creative soap opera on their own, but it’s interesting to hear from players what might’ve been had things shaken out differently. For instance, take the case of new Devils defenseman Anton Volchenkov. Believe it or not, the Devils weren’t his first choice this offseason as Rich Chere of the Newark Star-Ledger tells us.
The hard-hitting defenseman, signed as an unrestricted free agent July 1, would have preferred to stay with the Ottawa Senators.
“I would have liked to stay in Ottawa. My next choice was to find a good place for me,” Volchenkov said today as he visited the Prudential Center.
So why didn’t he re-sign with the Senators?
“They made me an offer, not good enough,” Volchenkov said. “That’s why I didn’t sign with Ottawa.”
Struggling just a bit with his English, he said he had offers from a couple of different teams.
It’s not terribly surprising that Volchenkov’s first choice was Ottawa, after all it’s where he’d spent his entire career up until now. Once former Penguins defenseman Sergei Gonchar got an offer from the Senators he couldn’t refuse, there wasn’t really room for Volchenkov in Ottawa. Once the Penguins snagged former Devils defenseman Paul Martin, the vacancy in New Jersey made the Devils a relatively easy choice. What also made the Devils an easy choice for one the league’s best defensive defensemen is the brand of hockey played in New Jersey.
“This is a really good defensive team,” he said. “They always play in the playoffs. They always play hard. They’re a very exciting team.”
Some folks might still quip about that last line, but any team boasting Zach Parise can’t be all too dull. And if they got Ilya Kovalchuk back in the fold they’d be even more exciting. Say, didn’t Volchenkov play with Kovalchuk in international hockey? Any chance he’s tried to help pull strings there?
He said he hopes Ilya Kovalchuk signs with the Devils, but hasn’t tried to influence the left winger.
“It’s (been) interesting. I’d be happy if he signed here,” Volchenkov said. “He’s a good player. It’s not my decision. It’s a decision for him.”
So much for that possibility. Volchenkov’s fit in New Jersey really is ideal and given that they also added Henrik Tallinder to help them move the puck as well, losing Paul Martin won’t hurt the Devils quite so much and they added better depth on defense. All things work out for a reason and in this case, for the Devils, it works out perfect.