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It’s FINALLY over; Kovalchuk re-signs with New Jersey…

It’s finally over. Superstar Ilya Kovalchuk has signed a new contract, ending the NHL’s version of the Lebron James free agency drama.

Well, you know, without the hour long anti-climatic waste of time, money and effort on ESPN.

Since even before July 1, the hockey world has anxiously awaited Kovalchuk’s decision on where his new home would be. Out the gate, the Los Angeles Kings and the Devils were always considered the favorites while the St. Louis Blues were mentioned as the dark horse. Well, this morning, the 27-year old Russian sniper inked a reported 17 year deal with the New Jersey Devils worth an unknown amount (although we do know – and we could’ve assumed – it’s over $100 million).

The deal was first reported by New Jersey’s official twitter account this morning, presumably knocking down the first domino in what should trigger a rash of free agent signings.

One must wonder how smart this long term deal is for Kovy, however. Martin Brodeur is the greatest goaltender of all-time and how do you get the anointed the greatest of all-time? You play a long time. Brodeur is 38 years old and not exactly getting any younger. So who will their netminder be in two or three years? Is their future in the hands of former second round pick Jeff Frazee who had a losing record with their AHL affiliate Lowell last season?

While we’re talking about aging players, fellow career Devil Patrik Elias is 34 and Brian Rolston is already on a 35+ contract which guarantees his money and the salary cap hit, regardless whether he plays another game. Jason Arnott‘s next contract will also be of the 35+ variety and then there’s Jamie Langenbrunner.

While there’s certainly a change in the guard coming for New Jersey, Zach Parise and Travis Zajac may be considered the future of the Devils but at nearly $3.2 million and $3.9 million respectively, can they afford to keep both of them around when their contracts expire? Parise, for example, becomes a restricted free agent July 1 of next year and Zajac become an unrestricted two years later.

Also, and maybe even more alarming, if you think there’s help on the way, think again. The scouting website has their organization ranked 26th out of 30 with Frazee as the lone goalie on the Devils’ top 20 prospects.

Bottom line here? Has Kovalchuk really thought about the big picture? Sure, next season it looks like the Devils are a Stanley Cup contender but what about the year after that? And the year after that? And then the 14 years after that? I mean, if he wanted to win over a long period of time, he probably shouldn’t have picked a place where the starter goalie is going to be retired in a couple years and the next goalie in line is yet to be determined. He probably shouldn’t have picked a place where his personal contract will severely cripple the organization from re-signing any of the other key forwards that will only help him in his quest. He probably shouldn’t have picked a place where he would eventually become the sole star.

He could’ve stayed in Atlanta if he wanted all those things.

SPECIAL THANKS: for the salary numbers and contract details.

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