The circus surrounding the possibility of superstar winger Ilya Kovalchuk signing anywhere continues to get more interesting. The other night we told you about a supposed max contract offer from the Islanders for Kovalchuk worth $100 million. Today, we’ve got a report from a Russian website citing Kovalchuk’s Russian agent (yes, he has two agents, the other being Jay Grossman) saying that two more suitors have made offers for him. Tom Gulitti from Fire & Ice gives us the details.
In a report on the Russian website, Life Sports, Ilya Kovalchuk’s Russian-based agent, Yury Nikolaev, says the the Philadelphia Flyers and Colorado Avalanche have also made offers to try to sign the unrestricted free agent left wing.
The report also mentions the Islanders, who made public their desire to sign Kovalchuk Friday night. Another article on the site mentioned the Devils.
If you’re one to believe reports from a Russian website with a potentially questionable source, perhaps taking the word of Avalanche beat writer for the Denver Post Adrian Dater will help clear some things up about the Avalanche’s supposed interest in Kovalchuk as he mentioned on Twitter. Dater is the one reporter who is most involved in what’s going on in Colorado and I’d like to think that he’s got the best measurement of what’s going on with the organization.
Avalanche in NOT in on Kovy. Period, end of story. Not happening!
There in NO pursuit of kovalchuk by Avalanche. The end
Avs are not in on kovy and never were.
As for Philadelphia’s interest, that’s perhaps the more interesting team to mention since it was reported the other day that the Flyers asked left wing Simon Gagne to waive his no-trade clause. Who better to take up the salary you’d shed by dealing Gagne than Kovalchuk as he provides more offense than Gagne and has a better ability to stay healthy than Gagne. Philadelphia reporters haven’t rushed to shoot down the rumor and are, instead, understandably intrigued by the possibility. Unlike Colorado though, the Flyers aren’t swimming in salary cap space to make such a move happen.
That said, this is all some fun speculation and idle chatter as the only things we really seem to know at all about the Kovalchuk pursuit is that the Kings, Devils and Islanders are the ones openly discussing bringing him aboard. The Kings and Islanders have the cap space to make it work easiest, meanwhile the Devils have added a couple of Kovalchuk’s friends in Anton Volchenkov and Johan Hedberg but would have to get creative in how to make the money work should it come to that.
Raanta rewards Rangers for starts over Lundqvist by blanking Blackhawks
If someone told you that the New York Rangers started a goalie on back-to-back nights, and that goalie wasn’t Henrik Lundqvist, you’d probably wonder if he was hurt or retired.
Nope. It just so happens that Antti Raanta is playing at an incredibly high level, Alain Vigneault noticed, and that decision paid dividends on Friday night. Raanta won both nights of a back-to-back, allowing a single goal (with the Rangers protecting him, being that he only needed to stop 43 of 44 shots during that span).
Raanta and the Rangers blanked the Chicago Blackhawks with a 1-0 overtime win, at least briefly climbing to first place in the massively competitive Metro Division:
1. Rangers – 39 points in 29 games played
2. Penguins- 37 points in 27 GP
3. Blue Jackets – 36 points in 25 GP
4. Capitals – 35 points in 26 GP
5. Flyers – 35 points in 29 GP
Nick Holden ended up scoring the only goal of the game:
Meanwhile, the Blackhawks lost but at least salvaged a standings point and it seems like Patrick Kane is OK after this injury scare:
Raanta improved to 7-1-0 on the season, allowing two goals or less in all but one of his appearances so far this season. That’s the kind of work you’d expect to see if you’re going sit a guy who’s, you know, a living legend.
Blue Jackets remain in thick of things in Metro on tough night for Red Wings
As the Columbus Blue Jackets keep rolling, the Detroit Red Wings are probably just happy to get Friday behind them.
For the second straight game, the Blue Jackets beat their opponent 4-1.
They’re now on a five-game winning streak, and like the climbing St. Louis Blues, things look great if you go back a little further. They’re 10-1-2 in their last 13 games and 13-2-3 since November began.
The New Jersey Devils have been incredibly difficult to beat at home. Lately, the St. Louis Blues have been on a roll just about anywhere.
On Friday night, the Blues were the hotter team, handing the Devils their first home loss in regulation in 2016-17. And it wasn’t particularly close, with St. Louis winning 4-1.
It’s a convenient time to note that the Blues rank among the hottest teams in the NHL. Most recently, they’re 5-1-1 in their last seven games, but they’ve been especially impressive since they flirted with .500 at 7-6-3. Beginning with a 4-1 win against the Buffalo Sabres on Nov. 15, the Blues are on a 8-2-1 tear.
This leaves them second in the Central with a 16-8-4 record.
That’s impressive stuff.
This 4-1 win was quite the showcase for Robby Fabbri and Vladimir Tarasenko, in particular. Tarasenko collected three assists while Fabbri scored two goals on Friday night. His second goal was particularly slick:
The Blues are right in saying that this was a pretty fitting opportunity to drop a “Holy Jumpin.”
Minnesota Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk has been the most difficult goalies to score against this season. Leave it to a high-level player like Leon Draisaitl to make it look this, well, “easy.”
Draisaitl scored his 13th goal of 2016-17 by capping this pretty give-and-go play with Benoit Pouliot. You can see the frustration from Dubnyk at the end of the tally, as if he was saying “How was I supposed to stop that?” (though probably with more colorful language).
Draisaitl came into Friday with five goals and three assists in his last five games, so he’s been almost unstoppable lately.