Speculating on what's next for the New Jersey Devils

traviszajac1.jpgMark Everson of the New York Post is speculating on a move the New Jersey Devils are going to make in order to accommodate the eventual addition of Ilya Kovalchuk’s salary. While there are many options the Devils could run with in order to fit under the salary cap in the wake of signing Kovalchuk (whenever that happens), Everson suggests that one of the team’s top centers is the guy that will go.

It’s difficult to fathom, but rumors are floating that Travis Zajac may be among the players the Devils will eventually sacrifice to get under the salary cap if Ilya Kovalchuk’s $100 million, 15-year contract is approved by the NHL.

Conventional wisdom suggests Bryce Salvador ($2.9 million) and Dainius Zubrus ($3.4 million) are the obvious candidates to surrender for the $3-5 million in cap space the Devils would need to clear by the start of the season if Kovalchuk’s deal is approved.

The one part of this that even makes any sense at all is that Zajac is the most attractive player to other teams that the Devils could move. Of course, giving up Zajac makes the Devils an older team up the middle and they’d be giving away a player who has really blossomed with the Devils.

They’ve got two players with obscene salaries that would immediately help the Devils salary issues if they were to depart in the aforementioned Dainius Zubrus as well as Brian Rolston (a $5.062 million cap hit the next two years). Of course, finding a team desperate enough to swing a deal for either of them would be nothing short of a miracle.

Finding a way to deal Zubrus would also give the Devils a chance to work prospect Jacob Josefson into the lineup. Dealing off Salvador would give Matt Corrente an opportunity to play or perhaps open the door to bringing back Mike Mottau. For now though, all we have is speculation but know that Kovalchuk signing will bring about change of some kind to the Devils roster.

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    Friday’s loss serves as ‘harsh lesson’ for Blue Jackets

    Jasper Fast, Nick Foligno, Henrik Lundqvist
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    Late in the third period of Friday’s game against the New York Rangers, things were looking good for Columbus.

    Brandon Saad, who the team acquired from Chicago this off-season, scored his first goal of the season to give his team a 2-1 lead with under four minutes remaining in the contest.

    Unfortunately for the Jackets, that’s as good as it would get.

    The Rangers responded with three unanswered goals from Oscar Lindberg, Kevin Hayes and Mats Zuccarello to spoil Columbus’ home opener.

    “When something like that happens at the end, I think we’re gonna be a better team because of it,” defenseman Ryan Murray told reporters after the game. “It’s a harsh lesson, but it’s a good one.

    Luckily for Columbus, they won’t have to wait very long to try and get their revenge.

    The Blue Jackets and Rangers will finish off their home-and-home series at Madison Square Garden on Saturday night, which might not be such a bad thing for Columbus.

    “It’s good that we get another chance tomorrow,” Saad said after Friday’s game. “We were high on emotions (after the go-ahead goal) and they scored and it took the wind out of our sails, but we have to keep playing. We have to learn to keep doing our thing, regardless of the score.”



    Kings GM says Mike Richards went into ‘a destructive spiral’

    Mike Richards

    The Los Angeles Kings may owe Mike Richards money until 2031 (seriously), but in settling his grievance, the team and player more or less get to turn the page.

    Not before Kings GM Dean Lombardi shares his sometimes startling perspective, though.

    Lombardi has a tendency to be candid, especially in the press release-heavy world of sports management. Even by his standards, his account of Richards’ “destructive sprial” is a staggering read from the Los Angeles Times’ Lisa Dillman.

    “Without a doubt, the realization of what happened to Mike Richards is the most traumatic episode of my career,” Lombardi said in a written summation he provided to the Los Angeles Times. “At times, I think that I will never recover from it. It is difficult to trust anyone right now – and you begin to question whether you can trust your own judgment. The only thing I can think of that would be worse would be suspecting your wife of cheating on you for five years and then finding out in fact it was true.”

    Lombardi provides plenty of eyebrow-raising statements to Dillman, including:

    • He believed he “found his own Derek Jeter” in Richards, a player who “at one time symbolized everything that was special about the sport.”
    • Lombardi remarked that “his production dropped 50 percent and the certain ‘it’ factor he had was vaporizing in front of me daily.”
    • The Kings GM believes that he was “played” by Richards.

    … Yeah.

    Again, it’s a powerful read that you should soak in yourself, even if you’re unhappy with the way the Kings handled the situation.

    Maybe the most pressing of many lingering questions is: will we get to hear Richards’ side of the story?