The Cost for Ilya Kovalchuk Increases Daily

NEWARK, NJ - JULY 20: Ilya Kovalchuk of the New Jersey Devils poses for photographs following the media opportunity announcing his contract renewal at the Prudential Center on July 20, 2010 in Newark, New Jersey. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Just how much is Ilya Kovalchuk costing the Devils?

Obviously, there’s his 15-year/$100 million contract, which is pretty steep, just by itself.

But there have been other costs.

Like the fines and draft picks the NHL penalized the Devils for their first Kovalchuk contract, which was $102 million over 17 years and which the NHL felt was attempting to circumvent the CBA.

The fine is $3 million, plus New Jersey will forfeit its third-round draft choice in 2011 as well as a first-round draft choice in one of the next four drafts.

So already the actual cost of Kovalchuk’s contract is $103 million and two draft picks.

But since the Devils are over the cap, there’s still salary that needs to be cut. And the team is very aware of that. Defenseman Bryce Salvador’s name keeps coming up, as has Brian Rolston’s, even though he has a no-trade.

If one or both aren’t traded, though, how well do you think they’ll play, knowing how close they came to getting traded? And since both players names keep getting linked to the salary purge, if either does somehow survive into the season, do you think either is going to look out for Kovalchuk on the ice? I’m sure both players understand hockey is a business, but you can’t be happy spending the summer wondering where in North America you’re going to live in the fall. That has to take a mental toll.

And if one or both is traded, the Devils won’t get much in return. Not with every NHL GM knowing just how badly the Devils need to shed salary.

And finally there’s the Zach Parise issue. Parise is a restricted free agent after this season. The Devils haven’t talked to him about his next contract, which isn’t unusual for the Devils, but everyone, Parise included, is curious how the Devils can fit another huge contract under their cap.

If the Devils do figure out how to take care of Parise, it’ll be at the expense of the rest of their roster. If they trade Parise away, which seems unlikely, they’ll lose a great NHL player and gain a lot of prospects who aren’t quite NHL ready.

The cost of Kovalchuk seems to grow each week. How will he play under the pressure of not only a huge contract, but the lost picks and players that his contract caused?

I’m not sure why Devils GM Lou Larmoriello decided to place the fate of his franchise for the next decade or so on the shoulders of Kovalchuk, but for New Jersey’s sake, I hope it’s a burden Kovalchuk can handle.