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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    3 KHL players suspended after testing positive for banned substances

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    The International Ice Hockey Federation has announced that three KHL players have been suspended after testing positive for banned substances.

    Here’s an excerpt from the KHL’s website:

    The IIHF has informed the KHL that three players – forward Danis Zaripov (then with Metallurg Magnitogorsk), defenseman Andrei Konev (Admiral Vladivostok) and defenseman Derek Smith (Medvescak Zagreb) – have tested positive for banned substances.

    Derek Smith tested positive for a category S6.а stimulant.

    Andrei Konev tested positive for a category S6.b stimulant.

    Danis Zaripov tested positive for a category S6.b stimulant plus category S5 diuretics and masking agents.

    Zapirov, who was part of Team Russia at the 2010 Olympic Games, has been banned from suiting up in “competitive hockey” until May 22, 2019. Konev will be unable to play until Nov. 19, 2017, while Smith, who is Canadian, will be suspended until Sep. 2, 2018.

    Smith, 32, played in 94 NHL games with the Ottawa Senators and Calgary Flames between 2009-10 and 2013-14.

    Report: John MacLean could join Tocchet’s coaching staff in Arizona

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    The Arizona Coyotes have a new head coach, but Rick Tocchet still has to fill out the rest of his staff.

    According to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, the ‘Yotes might be looking to add John MacLean to their coaching staff.

    MacLean, 52, spent six years as an assistant coach with the New Jersey Devils (2002-2009) before becoming the head coach of their AHL affiliate. After one year of coaching in the minors, MacLean was promoted to head coach of the Devils. His tenure didn’t last very long, as he was fired after just 33 games (they were 9-22-2 under his watch).

    He spent the following three seasons as an assistant in Carolina, but he was let go after the 2014 season.

    MacLean hasn’t been back behind an NHL bench since being let go by the ‘Canes. Instead, he’s served as a hockey analyst on various television networks.

    Related:

    Tocchet wants Coyotes’ young players to be ‘creative’ and ‘calculated’

    Tocchet brings lessons from past mistakes (and successes) to Coyotes

    Sabres re-sign Robin Lehner to one-year, $4 million deal

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    The Buffalo Sabres avoided salary arbitration with goalie Robin Lehner, as they inked him to a one-year, $4 million contract on Tuesday morning.

    Lehner and the Sabres were scheduled to have their hearing on July 27, but that obviously won’t be necessary anymore.

    The 26-year-old played a career-high 59 games in 2016-17. He finished the year with a 23-26-8 record, a 2.68 goals-against-average and a .920 save percentage.

    There’s no doubt that he’s a talented netminder, but he’s had his share of struggles when it comes to staying healthy and being consistent. Of course, the team in front of him hasn’t been very good either.

    Both of Buffalo’s goalies (Lehner and Chad Johnson) will have something to prove this season because they’re both on one-year contracts. When their deals expire next summer, Lehner will be a restricted free agent again, while Johnson will be free to test the market on July 1st.

    The Sabres now have just over $10.9 million in cap space with RFAs Zemgus Girgensons, Nathan Beaulieu and Evan Rodrigues still needing new contracts.

    A huge extension for Jack Eichel is also on the horizon, but his new salary won’t count on the cap until 2018-19.

    PHT Morning Skate: What will Ryan Johansen’s next contract look like?

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    –Hall-of-fame goalie Tony Esposito joined the guys on NHL Tonight to talk about his illustrious career. He talked about being named to the NHL’s Top 100 list, how he was one of the first goalies to use the butterfly style and more. (NHL.com)

    –It looks as though NHL players definitely won’t be playing in the next Olympics, which means certain players on AHL contracts could crack their country’s rosters. The Hockey News looks at eight minor leaguers that could find themselves at the next Olympic. Tom Kostopoulos could be an interesting player for Team Canada while Chris Bourque could be an option for the U.S. (The Hockey News)

    –Nashville Predators GM David Poile has had a relatively good offseason, but he still needs to figure out a way to get Ryan Johansen under contract. The Score takes a deeper look at what his next contract could potentially look like. Johansen will never be the highest paid skater on his team (P.K. Subban makes $9 million), but second isn’t out of the question (that rank is currently held by Filip Forsberg at $6 million). (The Score)

    –BarDown put together an interesting list of seven once popular equipment advancements that aren’t so popular anymore. Anyone remember Curtis Curve goalie sticks or aluminum shafts? (BarDown)

    –We all know what a shark is, but why did the original ownership group in San Jose settle on that name for their hockey team? Here’s one of the reasons: “The Red Triangle is (obviously) a triangle-shaped region that spans roughly from north of San Francisco to Big Sur. It hosts seven species of sharks including Great White, Leopard, Mako, Seven-Gill, Blue, Soupfin, and Spiny Dog. Notably, it is home to one highest concentrations of Great White Sharks in the world. With so many sharks in the water, it made sense to put them on ice.” (NHL.com/Sharks)

    –Everyone knows Sidney Crosby as an ultra-focused hockey star, but the little things separate him from the rest. Here’s a really cool story about him helping a Canadiens fan: