There’s no replacing Ilya Kovalchuk for the New Jersey Devils at this point. Training camp is under way and all general manager Lou Lamoriello can do is attempt to fill the hole left by his departed 30-plus goal scorer and look toward the future with increased salary cap space.
With one scoring forward gone, Lamoriello and the Devils are turning to another as Damien Brunner will be heading to camp on a tryout, according to Tom Gulitti of The Bergen Record.
After five productive years playing for Zug in Switzerland, Brunner joined the Detroit Red Wings last season and scored 12 goals and recorded 26 points in 44 games. Before July 5, Brunner reportedly turned down separate two- and three-year extensions from the Red Wings, worth $3.5 million a year. That was apparently too rich for Ken Holland’s liking.
Back in July, when rumors first popped up about Brunner and New Jersey, John Fischer from In Lou We Trust wrote that the 27-year old could fill a current need on the Devils:
I see Brunner as a forward who can be productive both in terms of shots and points. As much as one would expect from a secondary winger. He's not going to be the replacement or the answer for the Devils. He'll have to be protected in some way or form. I don't think he's the sort of player who's going to face the toughest competition over and over and regularly win. Someone else would have to take big minutes unless the coaching staff truly believes Brunner can do it. But I'm fine with all that.
The Devils have close to $4 million in cap space for this season, so should Brunner impress Lamoriello and Peter DeBoer in camp, there's no worries about fitting him in on the roster there.
Follow Sean Leahy on Twitter at @Sean_Leahy