We’ll wait on more official news about the exact details of the Ilya Kovalchuk deal (latest rumors are that it was a 17-year, $102 million deal with varying reports regarding how much its front-loaded nature could slap realism in the face). In the mean time, there are also reports about the failed offer.
That would be the attempt leveraged by Los Angeles Kings GM Dean Lombardi. Various reports, including respected beat writer Rich Hammond, indicate that the Kings presented their final offer of a 15-year, $80 million contract on Thursday. That would have meant a $5.33 million cap hit for the life of the deal, though who knows what kind of creative way Kovalchuk would have received way more money early on.
Today will mark a pivotal moment in the history of the Kings (and the New Jersey Devils, for that matter). The higher-ups are putting on a good face, for one thing. Ken Campbell discusses the positive side for the Kings.
The fact is, the Kings wanted Kovalchuk badly, just not badly enough to blow their brains out and potentially compromise their roster for the next decade. And, by golly, isn’t that a breath of fresh air? Kovalchuk wanted the Kings badly, just not badly enough to turn down an offer that was much better financially. And don’t forget, it’s not as though Kovalchuk spurned L.A. for the New York Islanders here. The Devils are a perennial contender, so any accusations Kovalchuk simply chased the money are ludicrous.
From the time Lombardi took over the Kings’ hockey department four years ago, he has maintained the club would be built properly. If the Kings were going to get star power, it was going to come from within. Los Angeles would be fiscally responsible, build through the draft and develop players at a reasonable pace.
And it’s very tempting and easy to dispense with that kind of logic when a talent such as Kovalchuk comes along. Some people pay lip service to building through the draft, then look at their roster and, for example, deal two first round picks for a 40-goal scorer who might not make the roster appreciably better.
Kudos to Lombardi for not getting sucked into that way of thinking. The Kings had their price and were not willing to exceed it, even when Kovalchuk held firm on his financial demands – something he’s fully entitled to do as a UFA, by the way.
(Interestingly enough, Campbell mentions that the Kings might have been willing to go with a 12-year, $64 million deal. Perhaps that was an outdated version of their final offer?)
OK, now that I’ve gotten other sides out of the way, I thought I’d ask you: did the Kings do enough to court Kovalchuk? Was their alleged 15 year, $80 million offer sufficient? Should they have offered him more money over more years? Or perhaps a bigger annual salary over a shorter term? Feel free to vote in the poll below.