This is an absolute shocker, especially for Devils fans. Kovalchuk is in the prime of his career as he is only 30 years old and had 12 years remaining on his ridiculous contract with the Devils. Kovalchuk was one of the best snipers in the league for years. While he had suffered injuries, there were no signs or reports of a career-threatening injury. The reason Kovalchuk gave for his retirement is that he wanted to return to Russia to spend more time with his family.
No matter what the reason is, this a huge loss for the Devils. This was a big year for them and their coach Pete Deboer, who is definitely on the hot seat. This will hurt an offense that already struggles to score goals and manufacture offense. Having to replace the team’s top scorer and best offensive player is not going to help their inept offense any more. The Devils will have to find some young talent who can help fill the void. It will take a total team effort in order for them to replace his production. The only real bright spot for the Devils in this whole thing is that they will have a lot of cap space moving forward. They can go out next summer and attempt to sign some big names in free agency.
The Kovalchuk retiring is a shocking development in the hockey world. The Devils will find it hard to replace their star next season.