NEWS

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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EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 x - NYR 73 47 19 7 224 168 101
2 MTL 75 46 21 8 197 167 100
3 TBL 75 46 22 7 244 194 99
4 NYI 75 44 26 5 228 208 93
5 PIT 74 40 23 11 204 186 91
6 DET 73 39 22 12 212 201 90
7 WSH 74 40 24 10 215 182 90
8 OTT 73 37 25 11 213 195 85
9 BOS 74 36 25 13 195 193 85
10 FLA 74 34 26 14 184 202 82
11 PHI 75 30 29 16 196 216 76
12 NJD 74 31 31 12 166 189 74
13 CBJ 73 34 35 4 198 228 72
14 CAR 73 27 36 10 170 201 64
15 TOR 75 27 42 6 194 241 60
16 BUF 74 20 46 8 141 249 48

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
A. Henrique 67 16 24 -2 40
M. Cammalleri 60 25 12 5 37
S. Gomez 50 7 24 -7 31
P. Elias 61 10 20 -16 30
S. Bernier 59 13 14 3 27
T. Zajac 66 11 12 -2 23
A. Larsson 56 3 19 3 22
A. Greene 74 3 17 5 20
M. Ryder 47 6 13 -1 19
E. Gelinas 54 6 11 -2 17
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Schneider 26 27 8 .928 2.19
K. Kinkaid 5 4 3 .919 2.42