As summer rolls into mid-July all of us who write about hockey were clamoring for some news. Things after the initial frenzy of free agency had slowed to an absolute crawl, with general managers seemingly all taking off at the same time. Who knows, maybe even vacationing in the same exact spot.
That all changed on Thursday when it was announced that Ilya Kovalchuk had retired from the league, leaving the New Jersey Devils without their leading scorer and talisman and more importantly to about 99% of the population, 77 million dollars on the table.
But do not feel bad for the Russian superstar, as word quickly spread of his imminent signing in the KHL to a reported 15-20mm contract that will ensure he will not be driving a beat up used jalopy and eating franks and beans to keep himself in top shape.
For general manager Lou Lamoriello, options still exist to replace Kovalchuk in the Devils lineup. As much as Islanders fans lauded the news as a win for them, with a division rival clearly getting weaker, the bet here is that the ‘retirement’ was not all it seems and it would not surprise me one bit to see Lou sign Mason Raymond (pictured), Mikhail Grabovski or Damien Brunner to a contract with the 10mm he now finds himself with under the salary cap. In fact, in my article posted here at Eyes, when I questioned the very merits of the exit, I presented the readers with a poll and 68% responded in agreement that circumvention was used on the way out, just as it had been on the way in.
News in Islanders country continues to be quiet, with the blue versus orange prospect scrimmage taking center stage this past week. Chris Triantafilis wrote up a great recap which can be found here. General manager Garth Snow continues to talk contract extensions with the two remaining regulars, Thomas Hickey and Josh Bailey, with the latter applying for arbitration earlier this week to at least retain some negotiating leverage as the two sides, as expected, cannot agree on what the forward is worth.
As announced on Facebook and Twitter, we have some exciting goodies in the oven baking for you this summer as we continue to improve and enhance our coverage. Flashback Fridays is in the works as well as the Clutterbuck chronicles and our new podcast director, Shane Blackburn, is working hard to get the voices of Eyes on the air discussing anything and everything in the world of not only the Islanders but around the entire league.
In Case You Missed It
- It’s Christmas in July as we review Western conference free agency (EOI)
- Art Staple on how deep the prospect pool goes on defense (Newsday)
- Perspective from the press box as Friedman details the scrimmage (WFAN)
- Progression or Regression this year? Holt takes a look (Rant Sports)
- The second tier of free agents is still pretty good (CBS Sports)
- Andrew Ference is a pretty good dude….(CBS Sports)
Every single post-game press conference should be like this….
Two Minutes For Tweeting
— Carissa Nichole™® (@Carissa00031) July 13, 2013
- Oh man this might be the tweet of the summer. Fantastic lead in followed by a picture that will sure warm the hearts of Isles faithful everywhere. Actually gave me goosebumps when I saw it.
Do #Isles fans feel that Pierre-Marc Bouchard will be the correct fit on JT’s RW this season?
— Ken (@Islesdiehard) July 12, 2013
- One of the biggest questions coming into camp is put out there by a great Isles twitter follow. I am not so sure the spot is ‘guaranteed’ that’s for sure. A lot of players are going to be chomping at the bit to play with the next most valuable player in the league. And yes, I just put that out there in print. Remember it…….
Official number on last nights #Isles Prospects Game is 5,172 fans. That’s what I’m talking about.
— IslesBlog (@IslesBlog) July 12, 2013
- What an outstanding showing for a prospect game in July. Continues to show the tremendous resurgence the team has garnered coming off their playoff appearance this year. A critical season awaits as the team must take the next step and put it together for a full 82 games.
— Dominik & LHHFriends (@LHHockey) July 10, 2013
- A whole lot of awesome wrapped up in this tweet from LHH’s Dominick Jansky to Puck Daddy himself. Of course, he is speaking of the way overblown out of proportion Justin Bieber incident.
Still can’t believe Kovalchuk took the money, watched the Devils let Parise walk, and then a year later said, “Peace Out!!” Smh
— Mike (@Okie7321) July 13, 2013
- Our very own Mike Ristano is still in disbelief, as I am sure many Devils fans are as well. After a complete shutdown of operations following the opening day of free agency, this certainly could be the story of the entire summer, no matter what happens from this point on.