After much deliberation, Ilya Kovalchuk has made the decision to do nothing. Really? All that waiting for this?
That's right folks, Kovalchuk will be plying his trade with the Devils again next season and while this blog has recently revolved almost entirely around the Toronto Maple Leafs, it was initially conceived as a fantasy hockey analysis engine as well. With that in mind, I'm going to break down the winners and losers now that Kovalchuk has made his decision.
Anze Kopitar - I'm sure anyone with Kopitar in a keeper league was salivating at the prospect of a true goal-scoring winger skating on his wing. Kopitar increased his goal production last season but he's traditionally been more of a cycling / playmaking center. Now it looks like the Kings will be taking a run at Simon Gagne and even if they land him, I don't know if that helps Kopitar's value any.
Drew Doughty - BCP's love of Doughty has been well documented (refer to Man Crush posts) and with Kovalchuk, there's no doubt that there would have been a huge uptick in all fantasy puck-heads' appreciation for the young defenseman. It's a shame that we'll never know what Doughty's powerplay production could have been like if Kovalchuk had landed in LA.
Ilya Kovalchuk - I know his production in New Jersey was fine last year. I know that he wont have the same shackles that the Devils have often placed on their offensive talents. I know all of this. What I also know is that the Kings would have been a better fit for Kovalchuk's fantasy numbers. The Devils don't have a puck-mover of Doughty's calibre. They wont commit to locking Zajac on Kovalchuk's wing as long as Parise continues to be one of the better wingers in the game which will mean, more likely than not, a time share. In LA, he would have had Kopitar all to himself. His production wont decrease, but don't expect a meaningful per game increase in anything other than +/-.
Anyone in your pool who doesn't own Kopitar, Doughty, or Kovalchuk - Let's face it, folks - fantasy hockey is a zero sum game. Any loss in value for your opponents is good for your team. If you don't own one of these three players in your keeper league then rejoice at today's news. If you're like me and you do? Weep softly so others can't hear your pain.