Ilya Kovalchuk rejects Los Angeles Kings' 'best shot'

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Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for kovaldevils.jpgIt seems that Ilya Kovalchuk’s quest to have his hockey cake and eat it too continues, even if the journey seems to be fueled by delusions.

Helene Elliott reports that the Los Angeles Kings – widely considered Kovalchuk’s most logical suitors – have been turned down by the seemingly picky Russian. All signs indicate that Kings GM Dean Lombardi is past the point of frustration when it comes to reaching a compromise with the high-scoring left winger.

“We took our best shot to meet his needs and the team’s,” Lombardi said in an email.

He would not elaborate on where the Kings’ offer fell short or where Kovalchuk might be headed. The New Jersey Devils and New York Islanders have also shown interest in signing the dynamic winger, who earlier this year turned down offers from Atlanta worth $101 million over 12 years and $70 million over seven years.

This summer’s been a rough one for the league’s biggest names in unrestricted free agency. Kovalchuk isn’t alone when it comes to having a price tag that NHL teams seem disinterested in meeting. Both Evgeni Nabokov and Marty Turco appeared to get bad advice – or simply misread the market – as general managers opted to go with cheaper options in net.

At some point, Kovalchuk will have to decide if he’s willing to make a compromise to find the right fit with a good NHL team or if he’d rather just get the best possible paycheck in Russia or perhaps Long Island. (It’s noteworthy to mention that at least one Islanders blogger is against the idea of sending Kovalchuk a hefty 10-year, $100 million-type contract, too.)

I think we’ll learn a lot about Kovalchuk’s priorities once he finally signs a deal. He’d probably be better off either a) signing a Marian Hossa-type deal that gives him long-term security while providing his team with salary cap relief or b) going with a one or two-year contract so he can prove that he’s actually worth a risky 10-year commitment. The other possibilities include signing a long, huge deal with a bad team, being a little more reasonable with term but still get paid a lot per season (maybe four-year, $40 million?) or just taking the big bucks with the KHL.

Chances are we won’t hear much on this holiday, but perhaps the true fireworks will go up on Monday. Stay tuned, hockey fans.