The 2010 New Jersey Devils season has been an absolute train wreck by all accounts.
It's apparent he can still play, but he just isn't being properly utilized on the ice.
Getting Ilya a linemate that can help him play to his strengths is absolutely vital, since like it or not, Kovalchuk will be here for the next decade. Accepting the fact that there's nothing that will change the $6.6 million dollar cap hit that he brings, New Jersey must now build around him.
With $8.8 million coming off the books next year with Jason Arnott, Jamie Langenbrunner and Johan Hedberg, it frees up the cap space to sign Zach Parise long term. The following season, Brian Rolston's atrocious $5 million plus contract comes off the books and a return to "Devils Hockey" can finally happen with some room to breathe.
A free agent next season who likely will not be able to be re-signed unfortunately is Devils' captain Jamie Langenbrunner, who has been largely unproductive this season regardless.
At 35-years-old, it's time to face the fact that he's expendable and not a part of the youth movement of the Devils. It's best to get something for him now before a loss in free agency.
As any aging veteran, Langenbrunner likely wants to win now and the way it's looking in New Jersey, it's going to take some time to get back in the hunt. A move with the Boston Bruins could prove equally beneficial to both sides, provided he would wave his No Movement Clause.
The Boston Bruins could use a perennial 60-point scorer as they are ready to win immediately, led by the near flawless play of goalie Tim Thomas, Langenbrunner would play solid two-way hockey in their pursuit of the cup.
In return? Backup goalie and former first round pick Tuukka Rask.
Martin Brodeur is not getting any younger or healthier, and it's apparent that he's now beginning to hold New Jersey back. In Friday night's game against the "lowly" Islanders, the Devils defense only gave up 14 shots, yet still got embarrassed in a 5-1 loss.
Now is the time to find an heir to the throne; this is where Tuukka Rask comes in. Rask is only 23 years old and has a career .929 save percentage. With Thomas having another 3-4 seasons left in him, Boston would have plenty of time to find another future starter.
To build around the salaries of Ilya Kovalchuk and Zach Parise, the Devils are going to need a triumphant return to the farm system building and an all-around youth movement, it starts with Rask.