Much has been made about the New Jersey Devils cap problems this season. The media attention that was given to their playing with less than 18 skaters for a couple of games was much more than when the Calgary Flames did the same for the last 5 games a couple of seasons ago. All of the attention due to the mega contract given to Ilya Kovalchuk in the offseason. However, to say that the Kovalchuk contract is the main reason for the Devils cap issues is naive at best.
Kovalchuk’s contract pays him an average salary, and therefore cap hit, of $6.67 million per year. Compared to other players with his offensive acumen, that really isn’t out of line. Kovalchuk is in his prime and the DEvils are getting production from him. There is one player on the Devils who’s contract is a cap tragedy at this point given his performance for the first 10 games of the season, Patrik Elias.
Elias’ contract brings a cap hit of $6 million, only about 10% less than Kovalchuk’s. Elias is 34 years old which is not ancient, but is on the other side of his career for sure. Now for $6 million per year, one would expect top line production and value from a player. Elias’ performance thus far has been anything but top line.
Through 10 games, Elias has only scored one goal and added three assists. These numbers prorate to an eight goal, twenty-four assist season. For a player that has never scored less than 17 goals in a season in which he played 40 or more games, that is unacceptable. Even more troubling is Elias’ plus minus. He is currently a -9 in 10 games. He hasn’t been a minus player since he was a minuns four in only seventeen games way back in 1996-97. His current performance would prorate to a -72 for the entire season. Now, no one would believe he would finish there, but the current number is absolutely terrible.
People can question the Kovalchuk contract all they want, but one thing is clear. The Devils are getting far less for their money out of Elias and his $6 million dollars per year.
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