Alex Kovalev seeks to impress one more time to earn a new contract

alexkovalev1.jpgIf you asked ten fans what they thought of current Senators star Alex Kovalev, you’d likely get ten different takes on him. In his career as a Ranger, Penguin, Hab, and Senator he’s found ways to both dazzle and frustrate the hometown fans. As he begins his 18th season in the league coming off of ACL surgery, he knows he’ll have to impress to be able to earn another contract next year in the NHL and it’s not something he’s worried about one way or another as he told Dave Stubbs of The Montreal Gazette.

And Kovalev, who still (sort of) jokes that he hopes to play until he’s 50, understands his NHL future rests squarely on his performance this season.

“Nobody can predict the future, but it would be great to still play in the league next year,” he said. “If I have a job, I’ll be happy. These days, it’s hard to sign a contract and nobody wants to play for free.

“But I’m fine either way. If I don’t find anything here, I guess I’ll go play in Russia for a bit. My first choice is to play here as long as I can.”

There will be no contract talks with the Senators once the puck drops on the 2010-11 season.

“I don’t like those discussions once we’re playing,” Kovalev said. “I just want to do my job.”

Having grown up not ever being a fan of a team Kovalev played for and watching as an interested observer instead, Alex Kovalev has always been a fascinating player and reminded me of fellow Russian Sergei Fedorov. Both players are tremendous talents with the abilities to make you jump out of your seat, meanwhile making you want to pull your hair out on other occasions when they appear to float through a game disinterested.

What’s stunning about Kovalev, aside from his stick handling skills, is that he’s 10 points away from joining the 1,000 career points club. From the kid who broke into the NHL the year before the New York Rangers Stanley Cup season to the cagey veteran looking to bring the same success to Canada’s capital city, it’s remarkable to see him still going and able to bring it at a high level. The Senators are hoping he can still do it on a rebuilt knee for at least one more season.

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    Habs prospect Juulsen out six weeks with fractured foot

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    Tough news for the Montreal Canadiens and prospect defenseman Noah Juulsen on Thursday.

    The Habs have announced that the 2015 first-round pick is expected to be sidelined six weeks after suffering a fractured foot on Monday.

    The Habs selected Juulsen with the 26th overall pick in the 2015 NHL Draft following his 52-point regular season with the Everett Silvertips in the Western Hockey League.

    This past spring, Juulsen appeared in two playoff games for the AHL’s St. John’s IceCaps. He turned 20 years old in April and it seemed like the Habs were going to give him a serious look to make the NHL club out of training camp.  

    “We like the way he skates and his transition game,” said head coach Claude Julien earlier this week, before the injury was revealed. “He’s going to get a chance to make this team and if he doesn’t he’s not going to be too far away.”

    Fight Video: Lappin, Puempel land some good shots in preseason tilt

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    Who says players don’t care about preseason hockey?

    Matt Puempel and Nick Lappin are trying to earn spots on their respective clubs, so they know they may have to do the little things others aren’t willing to do to stick around in the NHL.

    On Wednesday night, that involved dropping the gloves against each other. These two seemed to be in mid-season form when it came to throwing punches.

    Neither player is considered a tough guy. Lappin had 17 penalty minutes in 43 games with the Devils last season, while Puempel has 28 penalty minutes in 79 career NHL games.

    Here’s the video footage of the scrap:

    By the way, the Rangers won 4-3 in overtime.

    Flames say they were prepared to contribute $275M for new arena

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    The arena situation in Calgary took another twist Thursday, with the Flames revealing that they had been prepared to contribute $275 million to a new arena.

    The Flames released a nine-page report, which included the financial details of their proposed contributions. The organization said funding would also include $225 million from a Community Revitalization Levy, which would be generated from other developments in the immediate area around the arena.

    Last week, it was reported that the Flames were no longer pursuing a new arena in Calgary. The club reiterated as much in their report Thursday.

    “In a “small market” city, even one with an NHL team, a privately funded arena is not economically viable. The City’s proposal is just not workable (or even for that matter, “fair”, based on other arena deals in comparable cities),” the organization stated in the report.

    “As a result, after over two years of discussions, we see absolutely no basis upon which a new arena agreement can be achieved with the City, and we have concluded that there is no point to continue the pursuit of a new arena in Calgary. Many, including us, believe Calgary is a terrific place for NHL hockey and we certainly have great fans. As such, we will strive to operate, as we have for the past 34 years, in the Saddledome for as long as we believe it is feasible.”

    More from The Canadian Press:

    The city proposed a three-way split on the cost of a $555-million arena, with the city and the Flames each paying $185 million and the remaining third raised from a surcharge on tickets sold to events in the new building.

    Flames president Ken King contended the city’s plan amounted to the team paying the entire cost, or more, because the team considers a ticket surcharge paid by users revenue that belongs to the Flames and because they’d pay property tax back to the city.

    The Flames current arena, the Saddledome, is now 34 years old and has drawn criticism in the past from NHL commissioner Gary Bettman. In 2015, the Flames unveiled their plans for a new arena — the CalgaryNEXT project — with an original cost of $890 million.

    The city said at the time that the original proposed plan was not feasible. This issue has since continued for over two years now. In June, Brian Burke said the Flames could leave Calgary without a new arena. King, himself, has said the current arena situation in Calgary is not “viable in the near or long-term.”

    “That’s why we’re having this discussion is about a new facility,” King told the Calgary Herald. “So, if we’re successful in that initiative, our near and long-term future is here (in Calgary). If not, we have to decide what the alternatives are … Anyone can connect the dots to how many choices we have left.

    “If we don’t get a deal, what are our choices?”

    There was also this from the commissioner.

    Kings outlast Canucks in first edition of NHL China Games

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    The Los Angeles Kings came away with a 5-2 preseason win over the Vancouver Canucks in the first of the 2017 NHL China Games. This contest took place in lovely Shanghai.

    Adrian Kempe got the ball rolling for Kings, as he scored the first goal of the game on the power play to make it 1-0 for his team (top).

    Kings forward Tanner Pearson scored a great shorthanded breakaway goal to extend Los Angeles’ lead to 2-0 (check out the Pearson goal by clicking the video below).

    The shorthanded goal against wasn’t the only issue the Canucks power play had in this game. Vancouver managed to score once on the man-advantage, but they finished the game 1-for-14 in that department (yes, it’s only a preseason game).

    with Vancouver trailing 3-0 in the second period, Sven Baertschi finally got them on the board to cut the Kings lead to 3-1.

    Markus Granlund made it 3-2 in the third period, but that’s as close as the Canucks would come to tying the score.

    Pearson extended Los Angeles’ lead to 4-2 before Jeff Carter finished off the game with an empty-net goal.

    These two teams will meet again in Beijing on Saturday at 3:30 a.m. ET.