It’s not going to be easy for the New Jersey Devils to replace Ilya Kovalchuk in the wake of his shocking retirement.
One of the game’s top snipers, Kovalchuk finished his NHL career with 417 goals in 816 games for New Jersey and Atlanta.
But if you’re a Devils fan, here are two potential silver linings:
1. Kovalchuk is 30 years old. Lately, injuries were starting to become an issue. In 2013, he only scored 11 goals in 37 games. Wear and tear is a real factor in the NHL; for the most part, it’s a young man’s league. (Not everyone is Teemu Selanne or Nicklas Lidstrom.) Kovalchuk still has a few good years left in him, for sure. But his days of scoring 50 goals were probably over.
2. The cap recapture penalty that’s estimated at $250,000 annually through 2024-25 would’ve been much harsher if Kovalchuk had waited a few more years to walk away. For example, if he’d have left after the 2017-18 season (when $79 million of the $100 million contract had been paid out, per CapGeek), the penalty would’ve been an annual charge of around $3.7 million for seven seasons.