Tag: Vinny Prospal

Lou Lamoriello,Ilya Kovalchuk,  Jeff Vanderbeek i

So, what’s next for the Devils without Kovalchuk?


However New Jersey Devils fans feel about Ilya Kovalchuk’s departure, the fact is that he’s gone. This means New Jersey Devils GM Lou Lamoriello must answer the question: “What happens now?”

As long-time Devils forward Patrik Elias told the Newark Star-Ledger, the “retired” 30-year-old leaves a crater in the roster thanks to his absence.

“It’s going to be interesting over the next couple of months to watch Lou figure out what to do. I’ve never seen anything like this in my 18 years here,” Elias said. “No question it’s going to affect the team. You can question his defensive play, but offensively Kovy was a key guy. He was putting up the numbers.”

This post takes an abbreviated look at the impact of this loss and a variety of factors for Lamoriello to consider.

What New Jersey loses

As Elias states, Kovalchuk is a rare scorer. He scored 417 goals and exactly a point-per-game in 816 career contests. Even the most optimistic Devils fan would admit that there isn’t a sniper on his level on the roster.

Kovalchuk logged substantial minutes, too. His 24:44 minutes per game ranked 17th overall in the NHL in 2013 and was the highest average of any forward. (No other forward ranked in the top 30.)

Also of note: the Devils forfeit their 2014 first-rounder because of the league punishments involving the team’s first attempted contract with Kovalchuk. That lost pick could sting quite a bit, especially since Hockey Prospectus ranks the team’s farm system as the third-worst in the NHL, with an especially “barren” forward group.

Potential gains

There are some bright sides, however. For the sake of simplicity, we’ll ignore the money-saving elements that could make more of a difference off the ice.

Most obviously, the Devils clear Kovalchuk’s $6.667 million cap hit, which was set to expire in 2024-25. His age and an injury-plagued 2013 season imply that he might be passing his peak years.

Cap Geek estimates that New Jersey’s cap space is now around $10.6 million, and while they’re unlikely to spend to the ceiling, they can use that money to re-sign Adam Henrique and test the free agent market a bit.

With that in mind, here are a few guys Lamoriello might look at. (Note: restricted free agents could theoretically be an option, but there are enough complications that we’ll just direct you to this listing.)

Some UFA targets

Mikhail Grabovski
Jaromir Jagr
Vinny Prospal
Mason Raymond
Damien Brunner

There’s also the possibility of nabbing someone via a trade – the name Ales Hemsky sprouted up, for one – so at least the Devils gain options and flexibility.

Now, would any of these options completely replace Kovalchuk? That’s highly unlikely, but Lamoriello might just make the best of this tough situation.


Jackets ‘not sure’ about making offer to leading scorer Prospal


You’d think that, after a solid 2013 campaign, the Columbus Blue Jackets would want to bring Vinny Prospal back.

Well, think again.

The 38-year-old — who led the club in scoring last year — has stated his desire to return, but the Jackets seemingly don’t have as much of an interest.

“Are we going to extend him an offer? We’re not sure we want to do that yet,” GM Jarmo Kekalainen told the Columbus Dispatch. “We want to give him the proper respect if we do — and he may not even want to do it.

“We always like to keep our options open, but I’d say right now we’ll stand pat unless we make an offer to Vinny.”

Prospal paced all Jackets scorers with 30 points last season, averaging over 16 minutes a game while tying for the team lead in power-play goals.

He played on a one-year, $2.5 million deal — just like he did the year prior, when he finished second in the team in scoring and led all skaters in assists, with 39.

In late June, he re-iterated his desire to stay in Ohio.

“I want the public and the fans to know I’m not shutting the door on anything,” Prospal told the Columbus Dispatch. “I want to come back. I want to be part of this team, especially after the way we played after the start. We’ve really turned a corner and I can see where this is going.

“It’s going to be good here.”

The issue, it would seem, is Columbus’ financial picture.

The Jackets are a spend-to-the-cap team, evident by last season’s acquisition of Marian Gaborik (and his $7.5 million price tag) and this summer’s signing of Nathan Horton (seven years, $37.1 million) and Sergei Bobrovsky (two years, $11.25 million).

As a result, the Jackets now have 23 players under contract and just over $2 million in available cap space.

Leading scorer Prospal wants to return to Columbus

Vinny Prospal

Vinny Prospal was one of the many nice stories out of Columbus last season, as the 38-year-old led the team in scoring and was an instrumental figure in the team’s improbable playoff push.

Thing is, there’s no guarantee he’ll be back for another year.

The pending UFA is currently sitting in limbo as Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen tries to navigate his club’s free agent and financial situations.

“I want the public and the fans to know I’m not shutting the door on anything,” Prospal told the Columbus Dispatch. “I want to come back. I want to be part of this team, especially after the way we played after the start. We’ve really turned a corner and I can see where this is going.

“It’s going to be good here.”

“Here” is Columbus, of course — but Prospal and his family aren’t “here.”

From the Dispatch:

Prospal wants badly to return to Columbus, and has made that abundantly clear.

Three weeks ago, Prospal, his wife and three kids moved out of the house they were renting in Upper Arlington, put their belongings in storage and moved back to Tampa.

On Friday, they’re flying back to Czech Republic — unsure when, or if, they’ll return.

Kekalainen has made it very clear the club respects what Prospal has done in Columbus — finished second in scoring last year, led this year — and that it would like to bring him back.

It’s just not that simple.

“It has nothing to do with him,” Kekalainen said. “We have a lot of respect for what he’s done for this club. He’s had a great career, been a great Blue Jacket. We just have to make sure we fit under the cap and the budget.

“That’s where we’re at. We realize we run the risk of losing him. He’s a good player; has been for a long time. But we just can’t see the pieces of the puzzle right now.”