Blog Entry

Kovalchuk is becoming complete player in NJ

Posted on: February 15, 2012 3:35 pm
Edited on: February 15, 2012 3:35 pm
By: Adam Gretz

The trade that sent Ilya Kovalchuk to the New Jersey Devils prior to the trade deadline two years ago may prove to be the best thing that has happened to him in his NHL career.

Not only because the Devils have given him an opportunity to play on what has been a consistent playoff team (something his previous team, the Atlanta Thrashers, was not) but also because his time in New Jersey has resulted in him becoming a better, and more complete player.

Kovalchuk has been on a roll offensively for the Devils over the past couple of weeks, and thanks to his three-goal, four-point effort against the Buffalo Sabres on Tuesday night he's recorded nine points in his past five games for a Devils team that looks as if it's going to return to the postseason after a difficult first half kept them out of the playoffs a year ago, and a lot of that has been due to the play of Kovalchuk.

His current per-game averages for the season would give him 40 goals and 90 points over an 82-game season, which is pretty much what we've grown to expect from him offensively.

But he's not doing it the same way he used to do it in Atlanta. Just watching him you can notice a difference in the way he plays when he doesn't have the puck, but he's also seen role and value expand beyond just goal-scoring. It's not uncommon to see him on the ice late in games with the Devils protecting leads, and he's taking on more responsibility. Even though his total ice-time per game is about the same (around 21-22 minutes) it's being spread out across the board a bit more.

His power play time is down and his even strength and, perhaps most surprising, his shorthanded minutes are up. Way up.

Only once over the past six seasons did he finish a season averaging more than 15 seconds of shorthanded time per game (and that was when he averaged 23 seconds back in 2007-08).

This season he's playing over a minute per game on one of the best penalty killing units in the league, and during his 60 minutes of shorthanded play Kovalchuk is a plus-four on the season, having been on the ice for five Devils shorthanded goals (scoring three of them himself and assisting on the other two) and only one power play goal against. There are only seven other players with a minimum of 30 games played in the NHL this season that are "plus" players during 4-on-5 play, and only one of them (Pittsburgh's Kris Letang) has played more than 23 minutes of total shorthanded ice time this season.

I don't know if a 15-year contract like the one New Jersey signed Kovalchuk to prior to last season is always the right investment for a team, but with the way his game has evolved in a short period of time, he should continue to be the franchise building block the Devils expected when they acquired him.

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Since: Aug 27, 2006
Posted on: February 17, 2012 10:32 pm

Kovy Complete Player -- Class ACT

Since this website has the worst thread/conversation/reply to message Management in the world---- (how can you have a discussion on this website----?  Seriously?  Kovalchuck is a blessing.....the Devils opened up the pocketbook One time in their history-----And they hit a homerun----but Parise will sign with the Rangers next year.  Watch.

Since: Jul 2, 2009
Posted on: February 17, 2012 2:27 pm

Kovalchuk is becoming complete player in NJ

Golly.... at the tender age of 28 hes becoming a complete player. 

Since: Sep 11, 2006
Posted on: February 17, 2012 11:44 am

Kovalchuk is becoming complete player in NJ

To all the hockey pundits in the media who only watched one or two Trhashers games per year, let me enlighten you.

Kovi played hard on defense.  His only problem was it was not 'sound, fundemental defense'.  He constantly tried to overplay passing lines for quick breakawyas and that caused him to be out of position on a few highlight plays.  But it also helped him to score more goals as he seemed to get one of those breakaways every other game or so that resulted in a direct goal or a goal for the team thru a PP.

To say Kovi never played defense or was too lazy to play defense is showing that you really never watched him play.  I think the coaches in Atlanta were afraid to coach him up because he was the man here.  With the Devils he is part of a bigger thin and not the only star, so they don't let him slip on these things. 

So yes, the change of scenery was huge, but don't ever think Kovi didn't play defense.  That's just ridiculous.

Since: Nov 30, 2007
Posted on: February 17, 2012 11:18 am

Kovalchuk is becoming complete player in NJ

Love it when a guy has the stones to change and improve his game. Are you watching Ovie?

Since: Jun 20, 2009
Posted on: February 17, 2012 9:22 am

Kovalchuk is becoming complete player in NJ

Dude, Gretz, do you even check your stats before you rattle them off?  In 2012 Kovalchuk has averaged 24:48 a game, that almost 25 minutes per game when he used to be a pure offensive player.  Playing around 21 minutes is very different than playing 25 minutes a game, where the hell did you get 21 minutes from?  Why don't you just check the season statistics for a player before writing an article about him?

Since: Jan 27, 2007
Posted on: February 16, 2012 3:52 pm

Kovalchuk is becoming complete player in NJ

what a joke!....No NJ Devil an all-star!....are you kidding me?.........Kovie is the man!....and agree, sign Parise. As a Devil fan, its great knowing that when you go to a hockey game at the Rock, not only are you watching an all-star franchise player but each win with Brodeur in the net is another record broken. (his own)...........However, to get the cup again, we need physical defensemen. Larson is a couple years from stardom.  

Since: Oct 5, 2011
Posted on: February 15, 2012 4:02 pm

Kovalchuk is becoming complete player in NJ

Totally biased Devils fan here.  What team in the league wouldn't kill for this guy right now?  He still tries just a little too hard to do it all himself, but they nearly beat that out of him at this point.  Gordie Howe hat tricks, hat trick hat tricks, SH goals, this is like a beautiful dream.  Just sign Parise already and let's go get Marty one more cup.

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