I think the Devils need to take a real hard look this offseason to try and find out what kind of team they need to enable Kovalchuk to be successful.
First and foremost, the Devils do need a solid offensive defenseman, preferentially a guy with good speed and puck-handling/passing skills. Doesn't have to be a guy who can score a ton of goals.
this guy was taormina, but unfortunately he got injured. the devils have seen the need for a player like this - each year they've brought in a guy from outside the organization who has this skillset (rachunek, salmela, murphy). lou is right not to spend a lot of money on these kinds of players.
While defensively in front of the net, the Devils are horrible, they suffer as much from an inability to control the puck effectively/position themselves for outlet passes and breakouts. Teams don't fear a single defenseman on our team from having the puck or passing it out of our own zone. Andy Greene is a back-pairing defenseman getting a ton of minutes and being put in PP, PK, and 5-5 situations.
i don't think andy greene is a back-pairing defenseman, but he is playing like one this season.
Also, they need to find out what kind of linemates Kovalchuk needs and what Kovalchuk is most comfortable and effective at doing from an offensive standpoint. While I think Josefson could be the center for Kovalchuk going forward, it's not impossible Lou may have to go out and get another center in the offseason. I havent seen enough chemistry or cohesion between Zajac and Kovalchuk to think it'll work.
the center for kovalchuk is on this team right now - patrik elias. whoever coaches the team next year should say from day one of training camp - patrik elias is going to be a center on this team. lemaire can't use kovalchuk and elias together right now because then he's leaving travis zajac to fend for himself among the sh!tboxes. elias is a good defensive player. josefson and kovalchuk together would likely be a disaster in year 1. i think that's where we'll go eventually, but for now, elias is the man for the job.
It was a hell of a great first step, though, wasn't it?
sure it was. that's why they're doing so great this year. oh, they're getting outshot horribly and the only way they've succeeded is because of good fortune on both offense and defense? could have fooled me.