No decision on Kovalchuk contract today, one NHL GM sounds off on it

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kovalchukwithstrangestatue.jpgThe news on Ilya Kovalchuk and his latest contract with the Devils is… That there’s no news at all. The NHL has a deadline of 5 pm tomorrow afternoon to decide whether or not to approve the apparent 15-year, $100 million contract between the Devils and Kovalchuk. If the league fails to make a decision by then, the contract will be deemed accepted, but don’t get too excited thinking that will happen.

As for what other GMs in the NHL are thinking about this whole process, TSN’s Darren Dreger got to the bottom of things and found out that some executives still aren’t pleased with this contract.

Without knowing the specifics of the contract rival managers are left to consider the speculation that reports Kovalchuk’s latest contract offer to be in the range of 15 years and $100 million.

One NHL general manager doesn’t believe for a second the league will allow this one to pass either, stating Lou Lamoriello, the Devils and Ilya Kovalchuk are simply trying to “disguise circumvention,” adding, “trying to hide the crime, makes this even worse.”

When we took a look at this contract before, we noted that knocking off two years and $2 million seemed like a very slight change to the original 17-year, $102 million deal and that if the new deal was approved, the entire battle over this comes off as petty and mere wrist-slapping as far as setting the tone for future long-term, big-money contracts. The fact that at least one NHL executive (I don’t suppose that might be noted cap-busting contract opponent Brian Burke, would it?) has sounded off firmly on this could mean there are others that subscribe to this theory.

This leads you to think that maybe the NHL will again deny the Devils and Kovalchuk and bring us back to square one all over again and reinvigorate discussion of Kovalchuk perhaps going to Russia. We’ll know more by 5 o’clock tomorrow afternoon at the latest.

Rangers make changes after loss in Anaheim

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The scuffling New York Rangers — coming off a 6-3 loss Sunday in Anaheim, and with just two wins in their last seven — are expected to have a slightly different lineup tonight in San Jose.

Up front, winger Matt Puempel is likely to replace rookie Pavel Buchnevich. And on the back end, Dan Girardi will come in for Kevin Klein.

The Girardi-for-Klein switch is no huge surprise. Both d-men have been battling injuries, with Klein only returning Sunday after an extended absence due to back spasms. Head coach Alain Vigneault told reporters that he “didn’t want to put two injured defensemen in at the same time,” so Klein gets the night off tonight.

As for the potential scratching of Buchnevich, that decision would be slightly more controversial. The 21-year-old has two goals and three assists in his last 11 games, but clearly has not gained the full trust of his coach.

Henrik Lundqvist is expected to start in goal after a tough return to the net against the Ducks.

Canucks hint at shutting down injured Markstrom

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It doesn’t sound like Jacob Markstrom will play any more games for the Vancouver Canucks this season.

The 27-year-old goalie has been trying to recover from a knee injury suffered in the Canucks’ skills competition on Feb. 26.

“I don’t think things are great,” head coach Willie Desjardins said today. “We’ve got to make a medical decision on him.”

It has to be frustrating for Markstrom, who was hoping to challenge Ryan Miller for the starting job this year. The tall Swede played well at times, going 10-11-3 with a .910 save percentage — but in the end, he only made 23 starts.

“He’s a good goalie,” Desjardins said of Markstrom. “He can challenge for the number-one spot. Every time he goes in net, I’ve got lots of confidence in him. He’s left his mark this year.”

Markstrom is signed through 2019-20, while Miller is a pending unrestricted free agent.

It’s possible that the Canucks will re-sign Miller and come back with the same netminding tandem next season.

Oilers sign Walter Brown Award winner Gambardella

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Joe Gambardella, the UMass-Lowell senior that scored 52 points in 41 games this year, has signed a two-year, entry-level deal with Edmonton, the club announced on Monday.

Gambardella, 23, captured this year’s Walter Brown award as the top American-born collegiate player in New England. He beat out the likes of Clayton Keller, Colin White, Charlie McAvoy and Tage Thompson for the honor, and joined a distinguished list of past winners.

Rangers forward Jimmy Vesey won the Walter Brown in ’16 and ’15, while Calgary’s Johnny Gaudreau won it in ’14.

Gambardella is the first UMass-Lowell player to ever win the award, which has been given out annually since 1953. It capped off a nice year in which he also paced the River Hawks to the NCAA tournament.

An undrafted free agent, Gambarella’s ELC will kick in next season. It’s also worth noting that one of his UMass-Lowell teammates, defenseman Michael Kapla, signed with the Devils earlier today.

 

 

Coyotes to honor Cunningham for his ‘tremendous courage’

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The Arizona Coyotes will honor Craig Cunningham with a ceremonial puck drop on April 8 before their final home game of the season against the Minnesota Wild.

From the team press release:

Cunningham, who survived a medical emergency prior to the Tucson Roadrunners game on November 19, has made a remarkable recovery. Fans will have an opportunity to congratulate him on the tremendous courage, willpower and perseverance he’s demonstrated throughout his rehabilitation.

Cunningham was recently honored by the Roadrunners.

The 26-year-old’s hockey career is unfortunately over after doctors were forced to amputate part of his left leg due to concerns over infection.

True to form, though, he’s maintained a positive attitude.

“Obviously I miss playing every single day, and I miss the atmosphere around the locker room,” Cunningham said, per the Arizona Daily Star. “The guys have been great. From Day 1, they’ve been to see me every day. It’s been pretty incredible.”