Kovalchuk signing about to cost the Devils dearly, trade to Huskies helps Kucherov and Nugent-Hopkins to have shoulder surgery

The Devils got their sniper back in 2010, but their rejected deal will cost them in 2014. (Tim Kolupanowich/CM)

The Devils got their sniper back in 2010, but their rejected deal will cost them in 2014. (Tim Kolupanowich/CM)

When the New Jersey Devils originally signed Ilya Kovalchuk, the deal was seen as circumvention of the salary cap and they were fined $3 million and penalized with the loss of a third round pick in 2011 and a first round pick in one of the drafts between 2011 and 2014. As Brian Costello of The Hockey News points out, the Devils are going to pay for not giving up their draft pick yet.

No one would have expected them to give up their four-overall pick in 2011 that netted them Adam Larsson, but in hindsight they should have allowed the league to take the 29th pick last year they used to select Stehpan Matteau. Now it looks like the Devils are going to give up their 2014 draft pick, From Costello:

That meant the Devils would have to decide between 2013 and 2014 to give up its first round pick. With New Jersey hosting the draft this June and not having picks in the third, fifth and seventh rounds, there’s probably no way they’re going to surrender it this year. Add in the fact the Devils have been atrocious lately and are now looking poised for a top-10 pick in a deep draft and we can all assume they’ll be making a first round selection on home turf June 30.

So that means the Devils will not have a pick in the 2014 draft, which according to International Scouting Services is even deeper than this year’s draft. Do you think Lamoriello would like to go back in time and give up the first pick last summer? (No disregard meant to Matteau, who is a fine prospect and managed to crack the New Jersey roster and play 17 games this season before being returned to the Quebec League.)

This year is the second time in team history the Devils have reached the Stanley Cup final only to miss the playoffs the following season. It’s hard to imagine this team being much better next year unless GM Lou Lamoriello makes some big move this summer which means a top 20, perhaps even top 10 pick, will be forfeited by a rebuilding Devils squad in desperate need of young talent.

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A trade this season from the Quebec Remparts to the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies of the Quebec Major Junior League has allowed Nikita Kucherov to elevate his game to another level. Kucherov, drafted by Tampa Bay 58th overall in 2011, has exploded offensively with 29-34-63 in 33 games during the regular season and 9-12-21 in 11 playoff games; that includes a 3-3-6 point night in a 6-1 victory over his former Remparts that eliminated them from the playoffs.

Kucherov is experiencing great personal success from a trade that almost didn’t happen. From Sunaya Sapurji of Yahoo! Sports Canada:

But that deal was almost nixed. (Huskies coach and GM Andre) Tourigny said he needed a little coaxing from his friend Roy, to part with Russian import Dennis Kamaev and a second-round pick in the QMJHL draft. Roy was eager to get a trade done since he had three imports on his roster – Kucherov, Buffalo Sabres prospect Mikhail Grigorenko and Danish forward Nick Sorensen. League rules stipulate you can only dress two imports per game and Kucherov was not happy sitting out.

The Huskies are currently down 2-0 to the QMJHL’s best regular season team the Halifax Mooseheads who went 58-6-3-1 for 120 points, 27 more than second place Baie-Comeau Drakkar. The series shifts back to Rouyn-Noranda for Game 3 on Tuesday. Halifax won both games between the two teams, 8-3 on November 16 and 5-2 on March 1.

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Edmonton Oilers second-year center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins will miss the final five games of the regular season with shoulder surgery according to TSN. His shoulder has been bothering him for a few years and the decision was made to have surgery on it in order to prepare for next season. From TSN:

“It’s something I’ve got to look into and take of,” said Nugent-Hopkins. “It’s something that’s been nagging at me for a couple years.

“It got a little bit worse and it’s something that has to be taken care of eventually. We all decided it was time.”

His left shoulder has been a reoccurring problem for the centre. He missed 20 games last season because of it and then had to leave the Oilers’ AHL affiliate last December to do some strengthening and conditioning on the shoulder before playing for Canada at the world junior championship.

The injury has hampered Nugent-Hopkins this year causing his numbers to drop from 18-34-52 in 62 games last season to 4-20-24 in 40 games this season.


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