While this whole thing with the Devils only suiting up 15 players is definitely something that is going to bring a lot of heat to Lou Lamoriello and his mismanagement of the salary cap; which it should. For a guy to do all he did in order to get Ilya Kovalchuk under contract; he deserves this mess he's gotten himself into. He sacrificed the team for one player.
Yet, there's one person to feel bad for in all of this and it's head coach John MacLean. Here's a guy who has clawed his way to this spot in the coaching ranks, being passed over for the head coaching job a couple times and when he finally reaches the pinnacle...he has to deal with this mess. It's hard to coach in this league in the simplest of times, but to have a literally shortened bench because of it all-- what a rough issue for a rookie head coach to be put into.
That said, the good side to all of this is that he doesn't have to put out his fourth line because...well, he doesn't have one. He can actually play the top guys and know he'll be getting the most out of them. The downside is that the other team knows they won't have much energy late in the game if they power them with a dump-and-chase game early. It's hard for MacLean to coach from an advantage, even if they go up early-- because if they "blow their load" (I expect to be suspended for that one) early in the game; they'll be tired and be susceptible to a late-game comeback. If they lay back and get down early-- they may not have the juice to get back into the game.
It's one thing to have a mass of talent in order to justify the team having a rough time filling out the roster and staying under the salary cap; much like the NBA's Miami Heat. It's another thing to be like the Devils who have almost $32M tied to six players-- four of which have no-movement clauses-- and have issues trying to get a full team for another 12 players for $28M, especially since these guys had contracts prior. This is the backlash and almost karmatic result for the whole Kovalchuk situation.
It's obviously taking it's toll, as the Devils are 0-2-1, already short players via injury and not having the cash, and it seems Martin Brodeur is off his game, letting up 11 goals in three games and a .857 save percentage to boot. But, like I said during my post yesterday-- it's Chicken Little stuff right now. The bigger problem is what can be done to fill an entire team and actually win. They'll have to trade someone or shoot them in order to have the money in order to fulfill an entire roster and give MacLean the chance to actually coach a full team and show that the Devils should have hired him sooner rather than later.