Since first making the playoffs in the 1987-88 season, the New Jersey Devils have only missed the playoffs two times, with one of those times being the following season in 1989. The Devils have shown themselves to be one of the most consistent franchises in sports. Over this past summer, the Devils were involved in the running to sign heralded free agent Ilya Kovalchuk.
Kovalchuk is a rare player and a pure scorer. Any team would have wanted him, but his steep price narrowed it down to only the Devils, Islanders and Kings. He initially signed a deal with the Devils that the NHL deemed circumvented the salary cap. Long story short, the Devils resigned Kovalchuk for a deal that is really quite similar to the disallowed contract.
Through 52 games, the Devils are 18-30-4 and on their way to being mathematically eliminated from the playoffs. With the team on their way to the lowest win percentage in almost two decades, is Kovalchuk the problem?