If anyone remembers last season, the Devils tried using Ilya Kovalchuk on the right wing. While it did show promise at time in the pre-season, it never really worked out because of other uncontrollable circumstances, such as the coach being a complete imbecile (/shakes fist at MacLame for the Nth time) and bad luck. A couple of weeks ago, John asked the question about who will play alongside Ilya Kovalchuk and Zach Parise. Most of the readers felt that Ilya Kovalchuk and Zach Parise should play on different lines. However, John did mention that the Devils could move Kovalchuk to right wing again- while he didn't say it's the most attractive option, there are a few factors that might make it work out this time.
A Different Mindset- No Contract Hijinx
Last year with Kovalchuk, he wasn't nearly able to focus on hockey in the offseason as much because of the bidding war between the Devils and Kings over who signs him. And when the Devils finally signed Kovy, the only person who's worse at his job than John MacLean, Gary Bettman voided the contract because it violated the "spirit" of the CBA, which lead to the Devils having to come up with a new contract which was approved, but by then it was around September- when training camp came along, and he didn't get in nearly as much training as he would've if his contract was signed earlier.
Of course, this offseason he didn't have to worry about signing a new contract- instead he was able to spend more of his time training and getting ready for the upcoming season. Of course, for the Devils, a focused Kovalchuk is good regardless of what position he plays- but maybe if he's focused and in shape he might have a bit more success on the off-wing than before.
Locker Room Problems- The Cancer Has Been Removed
If anything, the removal of Jamie Langenbrunner is a massive factor in how the right-wing experiment works out this season. If you think about it, Langenbrunner did have some motive to be pissed about Kovalchuk- the experiment bumped him off the top line. Considering how he reacted after Lemaire asked Colin White to wear the C, I wouldn't be surprised if Captain Crankypants reacted similarly to the experiment. This time around, I doubt Nick Palmieri, Dainius Zubrus, David Clarkson or Vladimir Zharkov would have the same problem with DeBoer if they were told "you're not going to be on the top line".
The Right Wing Depth Got A Whole Lot Less Deeper
Earlier today, Tom Gulitti tweeted that Travis Zajac will miss three months after undergoing surgery on his achillies tendon. While Adam Henrique can be called up, the Devils have the option of moving Dainius Zubrus back to center. While he is better suited to the right wing, it does mean that the depth on the right wing gets even worse. If Zubrus gets moved back to center, moving Kovalchuk to the right wing adds a bit more depth there. While this will only be temporary because Zajac should be back in mid-November. If it works out, then I guess the Devils can continue using Kovalchuk as a right wing. If it doesn't, they can just move him back to the left wing when Zajac returns and Zubrus can move back to the right wing.
The Uncontrollable- Luck
Yes, luck does not have anything to do, and it's not something that Kovalchuk can control, but it is somewhat important, because of what kind of luck the Devils had under MacLame- bad luck. Lets say DeBoer actually does put Kovalchuk on the right wing- is his luck going to be the same as it was with MacLame calling the shots? I highly doubt someone can have instances of bad luck when only performing a certain event. What if luck swings his way and he performs? It's an uncontrollable factor that was a factor last season in why it might not have worked out last season.
What do you think?
Do you think that the Devils should consider playing Kovalchuk on the Right Wing again? While it might not happen, I wanted to toss this point up for discussion, considering the Devils lack of depth at right wing might be even worse than before?