Report: Add the Blue Jackets to list of teams that have inquired about Kovalchuk

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The list of teams reportedly interested in trying to get Ilya Kovalchuk back to the NHL continues to grow.

It was reported on Sunday that the St. Louis Blues, Toronto Maple Leafs and San Jose Sharks (all of whom have coaches or front office personnel familiar with Kovalchuk) were among a half dozen teams that have expressed interest in adding the goal-scoring winger.

On Monday, Larry Brooks of the New York Post added another team to the list: The Columbus Blue Jackets.

Kovalchuk hasn’t played in the NHL since the 2012-13 season as a member of the New Jersey Devils. He retired from the league following that season to continue his playing career in Russia where he was one of the best players in the KHL. He finished this past season with 78 points (32 goals, 46 assists) in only 60 games. Having turned 34 a little more than a month ago it’s obvious he probably wouldn’t score at the same rate he did in the NHL before he left, but he should still have plenty to offer as a top-line winger.

As noted on Sunday, though, actually getting him will be a tricky situation. Not only does Kovalchuk have to follow through with his apparent plans to return to the NHL, but the Devils (who still own his NHL rights) would have to sign him to a contract, then trade him. That is a lot of obstacles standing in the way.

As for the Columbus possibility, that would certainly be an interesting situation. For as good as the Blue Jackets were this past season they could still use an elite goal-scorer that demands the attention of opposing defenses. And while Kovalchuk may not be a 50-goal scorer anymore, his skills should still be enough to strike fear into an opposing defense. Kovalchuk also made significant strides defensively before leaving the NHL and had not only managed to become a better defensive player without sacrificing much in the way of offense, he had also become one of coach Pete DeBoer’s best penalty killers.

Canucks name new head coach of AHL affiliate

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The Vancouver Canucks have finally settled on a head coach for their AHL affiliate.

Today, Trent Cull was named new bench boss of the Utica Comets.

Cull replaces Travis Green, the new head coach of the Canucks.

“Trent is a passionate head coach with significant AHL experience,” Canucks GM Jim Benning said in a release. “He understands the development path of a young player, including the challenges they face, and has been a part of many successful organizations. Trent is a teacher with a positive, energetic work ethic. We’re excited to welcome him and his family to our organization.”

The past four seasons, Cull has been an assistant coach for AHL Syracuse. The Crunch made it all the way to the 2017 Calder Cup Final, where they lost to Grand Rapids.

Cull, 43, has never been a head coach in the AHL, though he did hold that role for three years with the OHL’s Sudbury Wolves from 2010-13.

It’s believed the Canucks’ first choice for the Utica job was Rocky Thompson. However, Thompson chose instead to become head coach of Vegas’ AHL affiliate in Chicago.

Construction worker dies after fall at Detroit arena


DETROIT (AP) A worker has died after falling 75 feet at the Little Caesars Arena worksite north of downtown Detroit.

Deputy Detroit Fire Commissioner David Fornell says the 46-year-old man was in cardiac arrest when paramedics arrived about 8 a.m. Wednesday.

Other workers had started cardiopulmonary resuscitation which first responders continued. The man was taken to a Detroit hospital where he was pronounced dead.

Fornell says officials were told the man was an electrical worker and may have fallen from a catwalk. He says the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration likely will investigate.

The arena will be home to the NHL’s Detroit Red Wings and the NBA’s Pistons. It is scheduled to open this fall.

More on the story from the Detroit Free Press

Habs extend De La Rose — one year, $725,000

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Montreal secured some forward depth on Wednesday, agreeing to terms with Jacob De La Rose.

De La Rose, 22, was taken 34th overall at the 2013 draft and has appeared in 64 games for Montreal over the last three seasons. He had a nice debut for the club in ’14-15 — appearing in 33 regular-season contests, and 12 playoff games — but has since spent the majority of his time in AHL St. John’s.

That might not be the case moving forward, however.

De La Rose’s deal is worth $725,000 (per TSN) and, importantly, is of the one-way variety. There could be more opportunities at forward next season. Montreal has already said it’ll pass on bringing back UFAs Brian Flynn and Dwight King, and it’s unclear if the club will get a deal done with Alexander Radulov.

It’s also unclear what GM Marc Bergevin plans to do with Alex Galchenyuk, who’s been the subject of numerous trade rumors.

Even after bad season in Buffalo, Kulikov generating strong interest as UFA

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Dmitry Kulikov had a bad season in Buffalo. There’s no debating that.

Not only did the defenseman struggle statistically, finishing minus-26 with just two goals and three assists, he also had trouble staying healthy, appearing in just 47 games for the Sabres.

But despite all that, Kulikov seems to be generating plenty of interest as an unrestricted free agent. Presumably, the hope among his many suitors is that he can bounce back, so long as he’s put in a better situation.

Kulikov is still just 26. And before he was traded to Buffalo a year ago, he’d had a number of respectable seasons with the Florida Panthers.

It’s why the Sabres were so happy to get him.

“He’s a good player,” then-GM Tim Murray said last June, per “I like guys that are honest, I like guys that are hard to play against, I certainly like guys that can make a tape-to-tape pass, and with our forwards, I think if he can make a tape-to-tape pass, good things are going to happen in transition with the skill and speed we already have here, so he’s just a great fit.”

Of course, it wasn’t a great fit, and Murray is no longer the GM.

As for Kulikov, there’s “about a dozen” interested teams, according to his agent. Ottawa and Winnipeg are believed to be among them.