Author: Joe Yerdon

Ilya Kovalchuk

Agent: Kovalchuk’s departure won’t lead to Russian exodus


Ilya Kovalchuk’s “retirement” from the NHL to head to Russia had some in the industry thinking it could lead to other Russian players ditching the North America for the KHL.

As Stephen Whyno of The Canadian Press shares, many insiders aren’t buying that. Agent Mark Gandler, whose client list includes Alexander Semin and Alex Burmistrov, says guys won’t start leaving in droves.

“I don’t think it’s an epidemic or anything like that,” he said. “I think each person makes his decision based on the circumstances that he’s in, based on his environment, his family, his upbringing.”

Kovalchuk’s choice was to head home and have his family join him there. That hasn’t stopped speculation that he was upset with how much money he lost thanks to taxes and escrow payments. In Russia he can make just as much money as he would in the NHL except it’ll be tax-free there.

As Gandler told Whyno, “The only incentive they can give you, in theory, is money.” That along with a less-busy schedule and thus more family time could just mean that much to him.

Are the Oilers interested in Dion Phaneuf?

Dion Phaneuf

Dion Phaneuf’s name has been mentioned as a player who could be dealt out of Toronto for the right offer. That might apply to most any player in the league, but a former Leafs assistant GM says the Edmonton Oilers may make a run at him.

Bill Watters, a former Leafs executive and currently a radio host in Toronto, told Bob Stauffer of Oilers Now the Oilers may be after the Maple Leafs captain. Jonathan Willis of the Edmonton Journal shares.

“Dion Phaneuf should be dispatched as soon as they possibly can and the story I hear is that Edmonton’s interested and if they are tell [general manager Craig MacTavish] to take him and have fun with him. I find him to be the most overrated, undernourished hockey player in the history of the NHL and whoever made him the captain of the Maple Leafs should have been fired six years ago.”

That doesn’t sound bitter at all. With that kind of endorsement, how could the Oilers resist pursuing him?

Truth here is unless the Oilers (or any team hoping to land Phaneuf) gets him signed to an extension, there won’t be much coming back in return. His contract expires after this season.

Cherry says Kovalchuk is ‘just laughing all the way to the bank’

Don Cherry

One guy we were all curious to hear from concerning Ilya Kovalchuk’s “retirement” from the NHL was Don Cherry.

Grapes’ thoughts in the past on players not from North America have always been lively, to say the least, and his take on Kovalchuk is no different as he told Bryan Angus of (h/t Puck Daddy)

“The Russians and the foreign people can have their cake and eat it, too,” he said. “They don’t like it here? ‘Hey, I’ll just…go back to the KHL and grab $77 million!’ And hey, why shouldn’t he? Hey, it’s tax free! So right off the top he’s saving 50 percent.

“So that’s why a lot of people are afraid to draft Russians. They do what they want to do and we cater to them. I’m the only guy that says the truth. You know, they have their cake and eat it, too, and Kovalchuk is just laughing all the way to the bank.”

For what you expect to hear from Cherry, this isn’t quite as over the top as it could’ve been. There’s more of the “Russian effect” talk and an “‘atta boy” for Kovalchuk getting paid.

There was one zinger though:

“You’re getting [millions] tax free over there … In a sense, if you don’t have any honor, it’s a pretty good deal.”

Well played, Grapes. Here’s the full video of his take on Kovalchuk.

Brodeur: ‘It’s going to be a challenge to make the playoffs’

Martin Brodeur

With Ilya Kovalchuk gone and headed to Russia, future Hall of Fame goalie Martin Brodeur says making the playoffs could be a struggle.

Rich Chere of The Star-Ledger spoke with Brodeur to get his thoughts on what life after Kovalchuk will be like and it’s trepidatious at best.

“I think it’s going to be a wait and see. It’s going to be a challenge to make the playoffs,” Brodeur admitted. “Without Kovy, not having the 30 goals that Clarkie (David Clarkson) scored and the departure of Zach (Zach Parise), now it becomes tougher for us. Especially with Detroit coming in and Columbus just fell short last year.”

Roster upheaval of one kind or another is nothing new for New Jersey. Losing Parise, Clarkson, and Kovalchuk in back-to-back years proves that. As Brodeur noted in the story, people are always eager to count the Devils out when these things happen.

With realignment and the semi-late announcement by Kovalchuk, this could be their biggest test to date to overcome drama and make the postseason.

Related: With Kovalchuk gone, Devils pursue Damien Brunner

Montreal re-signs Ryan White: One year, $700,000

Ryan White
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Montreal is bringing back one of their tougher forwards.

Center Ryan White re-signed with the Canadiens on a one-year, $700,000 deal. By doing so, White avoids going to arbitration and going through the not-so fun times that entails.

White is one of those pesky players who sometimes puts his team in a bad spot by getting a little too rambunctious. Last season, he finished the year with one goal and no assists in 26 games as well as 67 penalty minutes. His five-game suspension last season for elbowing Kent Huskins helped earn him a less-than stellar reputation.

Now he’ll potentially be on a line with newcomer George Parros to help give the Habs more ammo to use against the Bruins and other tough teams in the East.