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Wilson: Kovy deal makes Devils formidable foe

Friday, 02.05.2010 / 2:41 PM / NHL Insider

By Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

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Wilson: Kovy deal makes Devils formidable foe
Maple Leafs coach Ron Wilson says New Jersey's trade for Ilya Kovalchuk makes the Devils a legit Stanley Cup contender.
NEWARK, N.J. -- Toronto Maple Leafs coach Ron Wilson certainly knows the impact a big trade can have on an organization.

He was a first-hand witness just four days ago when Leafs General Manager Brian Burke obtained defenseman Dion Phaneuf in a seven-player deal with Calgary before acquiring goalie Jean-Sebastian Giguere from the Anaheim Ducks less than an hour later in a three-player transaction.

Two days later, those new players helped the Leafs score a 3-0 victory over the New Jersey Devils to snap a six-game winless streak. Giguere earned the shutout with 30 saves and Phaneuf made an immediate impact -- collecting a game-high six hits and three blocked shots. He also dropped the gloves and fought Devils' defenseman Colin White to the delight of the Air Canada Centre crowd.

Wilson admitted he wasn't surprised when he heard the news that New Jersey General Manager Lou Lamoriello had struck a deal with the Atlanta Thrashers Thursday for the rights to five-time 40-goal scorer Ilya Kovalchuk.

"There were rumors another team was coming in late and I assumed it would be New Jersey because Lou has as good a pulse as any GM on his own team," Wilson told NHL.com following his team's morning skate at Prudential Center on Friday.

"There was an area that needed to be addressed -- his team was struggling to score goals, so he went out and did something," Wilson said. "He had the assets because he does such a good job drafting and developing. He was able to come up with a better deal than anyone else. He's a rented a player, but certainly an impact player that you have to pay attention to when you're coaching against him.

"He's a threat and it'll be interesting to see how he fits in there," he continued. "I think he'll fit in fine. Those who say (Devils coach) Jacques Lemaire won't let him be Ilya Kovalchuk, don't know Jacques Lemaire very well."

Still, Lemaire did tell the media that Kovalchuk might need to change one aspect of his high-scoring game.

"When he gets in our end, he will have to stop -- that's all," the coach said. "The rest he can do anything he wants."

Wilson feels playing that style will only make Kovalchuk better.

"I've watched him in the World Championships (in 2009) and he was the best player because he did all those little things," Wilson said. "I think he can return and have that same kind of form. He's going to be excited because this team definitely has a shot at winning the Stanley Cup. I'm not just talking fighting, scratching and clawing to make the playoffs, but a real legitimate shot at winning the Cup -- now."

Contact Mike Morreale at mmorreale@nhl.com



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