Ilya Kovalchuk, Alex Frolov receive offers from KHL

1 Comment

kovalchukkhl.jpgWhen it comes to Russian hockey players – from superstars to middling talent – the KHL will be a great negotiating tool for the foreseeable future. Sure, there are players from other countries who might elect to go there, too (as you could see with goalies Ray Emery – briefly – and Robert Esche). But for the most part, though, the close-to-home nature of the Kontinental Hockey League will beckon for Russians (and Czechs/Slovaks too).

So it should come as no surprise that star forward Ilya Kovalchuk – along with solid, if inconsistent performer Alex Frolov – were offered contracts with the rebel league. TSN reports that Kovalchuk may prefer to stay in the NHL, though, and won’t consider jumping ship to the KHL until he can weigh other offers once the free agency bidding war begins on July 1.

Sovsports, a Russian sports website, is reporting that SKA St Petersburg made an offer to Kovalchuk that would see the sniper make $30 million over a three-year span.

That’s big coin, even for an explosive star with such name recognition like Kovalchuk. While explaining his pessimism in keeping Frolov, Los Angeles Kings GM Dean Lombardi also reveal why even an NHL team might not be able to provide such a lucrative offer for Kovalchuk. (Brandon also touched on the scarce chances the Kings have of re-signing the mercurial forward.)

“The other thing we’re confronting here, don’t forget, is the KHL, and they’re offering an awful lot of money, tax-free,” Lombardi told the radio station. “It’s almost like the WHA days, where the difference in dollars is huge.”

“I talked to him at the end of the year, and I said to myself, ‘This is no different than when Bobby Hull left.’ I’m sure he wanted to stay in the NHL, but when the money is that much different, you can’t blame him.”

Lombardi makes a good point, although the Hull parallels probably work just a touch better when speaking about Kovalchuk rather than Frolov.

To me, Kovalchuk’s decision will come down to whether or not he values playing in the most competitive league in the world. If he wants money alone (and really, it could very well be a significant difference), then the KHL is his best best. He can also make nice money in the NHL, though, and do so while testing himself at the highest level.

Along with Patrick Marleau and Evgeni Nabokov, Kovalchuk’s decision will be one of the biggest of the summer. Expect more analysis, speculation and information on that as the month goes along.

Patrick Kane’s streak hits 19 games, setting a new American record

1 Comment

When it comes to point streaks for U.S.-born NHL players, Patrick Kane now stands alone.

With a power-play goal early in Saturday’s Blackhawks – Kings game, Kane extended his streak to 19 games, breaking a tie with Phil Kessel and Eddie Olczyk (who finished with at least a point in 18 straight).

As of this writing, Kane has 11 goals and 19 assists during this 19-game streak. He also leads the NHL in scoring.

Bobby Hull’s 21-game point streak stands as the Chicago Blackhawks’ overall team record, by the way.

So, how would you protect a lead against the Stars?

1 Comment

You know what they say: it’s easy to bash a strategy in hindsight.

Slam that NFL head coach for going for it on fourth down … or settling for the field goal. Bury that MLB manager because he kept a pitcher in too long. And so on.

“Score effects” settle in during almost any lopsided hockey game, yet the Dallas Stars present quite a conundrum: what’s the best way to put a way a team with this much firepower?

Tonight may have presented the greatest evidence that this team won’t go away easy, as it seemed like the Minnesota Wild had the best of a tired Stars team* when they built a 3-0 lead.

Instead, the Stars scored three third-period goals while Tyler Seguin capped the comeback with an overtime-winner.

It was one of those bend-and-then-break moments for Minnesota. Dallas generated a 44-26 shot advantage, including a ridiculous 35-15 edge in the final two periods.

Does that mean that Mike Yeo may have tried to play too conservatively with a healthy lead? It’s a possibility.

On the other hand, would the Wild be wiser to try to run-and-gun with one of the most dangerous offenses in the NHL?

It sure seems like a pick-your-poison situation. Which way would you lean, though?

* – To be fair to Minnesota, each team was on back-to-backs.

Price paid: Devils come back against Condon, Canadiens

Mike Condon, John Moore,
Leave a comment

If nothing else, the New Jersey Devils seem like they won’t be the sort of team a contender can essentially mark off as a “W” on their calendars.

The Montreal Canadiens may not be in a position to take opponents lightly with Carey Price on the shelf, but whatever the case may be, they saw their four-game winning streak end in frustrating fashion on Saturday.

After falling behind 2-0, the Devils scrapped their way back into it, eventually riding a John Moore overtime goal to a 3-2 OT win.

If Montreal needs an obvious bright side to look on considering this hiccup, Alex Galchenyuk‘s hot weekend may be a good thing to look at.

Tonight’s loss may smart a bit anyway, however.

Metro’s best? Capitals keep winning, pass Rangers for division lead

Jonathan Bernier; Matt Niskanen; Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau

If you want to summarize the Capitals – Maple Leafs game in one sentence, you could do worse than:

“Washington is hot as Jonathan Bernier is cold.”

The Caps reeled off a 4-2 win against Toronto on Saturday, giving them five straight wins. They also jumped into first place in the Metropolitan Division today, as they keep climbing while the New York Rangers are experiencing some growing pains.

Again, James Reimer can’t get healthy and back in Toronto’s net too soon:

With this win, Washington is now 17-5-1, leading the Metro by one point with 35 standings points. They also hold a game in hand against the Rangers, and no other Metro team even has 30 right now.

Measuring stick stretch begins

Tonight’s game began a “prove-it” month-and-change for Washington.

This contest began a three-game road trip, and they’ll also play six of seven away from Washington.

It’s pretty rough through the start of 2016, really. The Capitals will only enjoy three home games through Jan. 9.

In other words, the Capitals seem like a convincing East contender, but look out if they remain hot through the next 5-6 weeks.