Ranking Most Painful New Jersey Devils Moments Of Last Decade

Zach Parise #9 of the New Jersey Devils. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Zach Parise #9 of the New Jersey Devils. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /
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New Jersey Devils
Russian SKA St. Petersburg winger, Ilya Kovalchuk (ALEXANDER NEMENOV/AFP via Getty Images) /

4. Kovalchuk Retiring

As if Zach Parise leaving the season prior and David Clarkson signing with the Maple Leafs wasn’t challenging enough, the New Jersey Devils other star player retiring out of nowhere a year later was a sign that Devils hockey would be a disaster for the next decade. Ilya Kovalchuk originally signed onto a team that was fighting for a Stanley Cup, however, that didn’t seem to be the case anymore.

When Kovy walked away, he had 12 years remaining on his $102-million deal. A deal that would currently have three more years remaining on it. Did it sting when Kovalchuk left? Of course. But for a team who was struggling with all sorts of financial problems and would still be coughing up $6.5 million per season in cap space to a 38-year-old Kovy, it was a blessing in disguise.

If Kovalchuk stayed, the 2014 Devils would make the playoffs. Forget his offensive ability, if they had thrown him in for only shootouts, he still would have gotten them to the playoffs. He had a few more elite years in him, but by the time he came back to the NHL in the 2018-19 season, he was producing at a half-game per pace, nothing near to what his contractual value would have been.