It’s like this Ilya Kovalchuk retirement thing, as much as it was a surprise to most, shouldn’t be one in hindsight. KHL rumors surrounded him, he delayed his return from Russia (I didn’t buy the excuse Lou Lamoriello offered), the New Jersey Devils lost Zach Parise and David Clarkson, Martin Brodeur is days away from retirement (365 days, give or take) and the Devils don’t look to be competitive anytime soon. Add to that tax-free money in Russia and near God-like status, and what do you have? And before you feel sorry for New Jersey, follow the money trail. The Devils save a fortune and erase this hideous contract from their books. Quietly, Lou and Jeff Vanderbeek are smiling…after all, nobody makes a deal with the Devil and find the Devil who gets screwed in the end.

It’s like that Jake Muzzin kid has a lot to prove this coming season and next. I look at Jake’s career at a critical crossroad. He is 24 years old and while defensemen do take longer, the internal competition for his position (4-6 pairing) is fierce. I am rooting for Jake but I didn’t care for much of anything I saw from him in the playoffs. Those who compare his playoffs to that of Slava Voynov in 2012 need an enema. Slava had a few goals go off his body, due to freak bounces. That is just stupid, bad luck. It doesn’t take away from his poise, control and positioning with and without the puck, none of which Jake showed.

It’s like this whole Trevor Lewis, Kyle Clifford, Alec Martinez arbitration election has me concerned. I know the arbitration election is just part of the process and there is still time to work out a deal but, if it proceeds to arbitration and the arbitrator gives an award beyond what we can afford, we may lose one of them. Of the three, Martinez is the odd man out…and that sucks because Alec’s “off” season (not to be confused with offseason) is not reflective of his skill set or work ethic. He proved himself and his worth in the 2012 season and playoffs. He has shown he can play under pressure and when the big game is on the line. I don’t want to lose him to a competitor and Jake Muzzin, at this point, does not make Alec expendable.

As for the rookies…

I am a big fan of Andy Andreoff. If you have not read it, check out Jon Rosen’s interview with him. I have watched this kid since his first camp and want to see him make the big club, although likely not this season. He may make Dwight King expendable if Dwight King’s offensive output remains at nonexistent…although Darryl Sutter loves Kong.

If Maxim Kitsyn (just sounds like a great hockey player name) can solidify his role as a Tomas Holmstrom type of left wing who makes his living in front of the net, he may make the team. I have watched Kitsyn and his style suits our needs. It’s just a question of whether he can put it all together.

I just got back from a short vacation and have not attended any development camp. Any of you freaks go? What did you see? Got any photos you took to share?

For you old school G’s like me, till the next episode…