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Devils react to new Kovy-lution

Brodeur: 'Our fans will really appreciate having a superstar like him.'

Friday, 02.5.2010 / 12:56 PM ET / News
By Eric Marin
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Devils react to new Kovy-lution
Kovalchuk at Friday's morning skate.
Adding Ilya Kovalchuk to the mix changes everything for the Devils, and there wasn't a player in the dressing room Friday morning that felt otherwise.

The Russian sniper was acquired Thursday from Atlanta for Johnny Oduya, Niclas Bergfors, Patrice Cormier and a first-rounder. The teams also swapped second-round picks.

Kovalchuk, 26, was set to make his team debut in Friday's meeting with Toronto.

Zach Parise, himself a 40-goal scorer last season, was thrilled to have a two-time 50-goal guy in New Jersey. Once the news got out on Thursday, Parise's phone wouldn't stop ringing.

"I was driving and my phone kept ringing, but I didn't answer," Parise said. "I didn't even know who it was. Fifteen, 20 times in a row. I was like: 'What is going on?' Then I finally got to my house and looked and saw that he got traded. I was shocked. I couldn't believe it. It's an unbelievable addition when you get to put a scorer like that in your lineup. It's awesome."

So who was trying to call?

"Teammates, friends from home – seemed like everyone I knew that had found out the news was trying to give me a call," he said.

That the Devils have dropped eight of 11 entering Friday's meeting with Toronto was all but an afterthought in the wake of the big news. Parise, the Devils' leading scorer this season with 57 points (25g-32a), now ranks second on the club to Kovalchuk's 58 (31g-27a).

"Right now it gives us an unbelievable scoring threat that not every team has," Parise said. "He's a guy that can change a game, take over a game, dominate a game. It adds a huge scoring threat for us."

The Devils jumped out to the best first half in franchise history before struggling in January. Injuries to all-time leading scorer Patrik Elias, top defenseman Paul Martin and crash-and-bang winger David Clarkson have taken their toll.

A drop-off in scoring has resulted in New Jersey being blanked four times in its last 12 games, including Tuesday's 3-0 loss at Toronto. But Kovalchuk is sure to have an instant effect on the Devils' regular-season stretch run and beyond.

"We'll see how it turns out," Parise said. "I think when you can add a player like that, it's definitely going to help. Now we have to make sure that we all elevate our game, too." 

Martin Brodeur said he was excited – but not as much as his sons, who have already asked for their own Kovalchuk No. 17 jerseys.

"Any time you're adding a player of that caliber to your lineup, I think you're definitely looking at the big picture and how it's going to affect our team," Brodeur said. "We're definitely delighted to have a guy like him."

Kovalchuk brings incredible scoring punch to the Devils, who rank 21st in the NHL with 2.54 goals per game. Atlanta, Kovalchuk's former club, is sixth overall.

"We're happy to have him in our lineup," Brodeur said. "It brings a totally different element that we didn't have before for our power play and our five-on-five play. I think it's also going to give Zach room, also. Teams can't just key in on Zach all night long because Kovy's going to be there, and vice versa. It's just something that, especially with the way we were going offensively, we maybe needed it a bit to get somewhat of a spark, and we did it in a big way."

The move caught even the future Hall of Famer by surprise.

"I was laughing about it when it was in the papers that our team was (in the running) for that trade," he said. "I said, 'I don't think so.' Usually, if it's out there, we're not going to get him. It definitely was a surprise. I got the call from a lot of people just before it really happened, and then I still didn't believe until I saw it on the ticker. It was definitely a good day. I think our fans will really appreciate having a superstar like him."

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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 WSH 53 40 9 4 175 120 84
2 FLA 54 32 16 6 150 122 70
3 NYR 54 31 18 5 153 135 67
4 NYI 53 29 18 6 150 131 64
5 DET 54 28 18 8 136 132 64
6 BOS 54 29 19 6 159 148 64
7 TBL 53 29 20 4 140 127 62
8 PIT 53 27 19 7 138 135 61
9 NJD 55 27 21 7 122 123 61
10 MTL 55 27 24 4 147 145 58
11 PHI 53 24 20 9 127 138 57
12 CAR 54 24 21 9 130 142 57
13 OTT 56 25 25 6 157 173 56
14 CBJ 56 22 28 6 140 173 50
15 BUF 55 21 28 6 125 151 48
16 TOR 53 19 25 9 122 149 47

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
L. Stempniak 55 15 25 6 40
M. Cammalleri 42 14 24 15 38
A. Henrique 53 18 18 14 36
K. Palmieri 55 20 15 3 35
T. Zajac 47 8 18 7 26
D. Schlemko 47 6 9 -8 15
A. Larsson 55 2 11 12 13
D. Severson 51 1 12 -1 13
A. Greene 55 4 6 2 10
J. Josefson 44 3 7 -14 10
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Schneider 24 16 6 .930 2.01
K. Kinkaid 3 5 1 .909 2.52
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