Without question, the most interesting of all available players currently is Ilya Kovalchuk. At age 27, Kovy already has amassed 338 goals. He’s a heck of a player, to say the least, and can become the face of any franchise he walks on to due to his high skill level.
So why isn’t he signed yet?
The fact is that the price tag on Kovalchuk is too high for many GMs to consider. Apparently the Russian turned down offers worth $70 million over seven years and $101 million over 12 years, so that puts a lot of management types at odds when it comes to signing him. It’s not that teams don’t want Kovalchuk; it’s that they can’t bleedin’ afford him.
The problem in justifying the cost for Kovalchuk is that many of his critics say he’s all about the bucks. And they may be right, as recent negotiations with Kovy haven’t gone all that well and his reputation for a big cash player appears to be sinking in around the league. Teams want to win, sure, but many of the game’s top execs won’t pay a jerk millions of dollars to do it.
If Kovalchuk was smart, he’d take the next offer that came sliding across his plate. He’d prove that he wasn’t just about the money and that, yes, he would take less than what the Atlanta Thrashers offered him and, yes, he’ll play for a new team and like it.
It’s also bad timing for Kovalchuk to pull this sort of attitude now. With so much of the league’s money locked up in big contracts with franchise players or in big buyouts, it’s highly unlikely that a player of Kovy’s calibre is going to land anywhere anytime soon.
So what does that mean?
It means the KHL has got to be looking pretty sweet right now. Word is that SKA St. Petersburg has tabled a $40 million deal with a contract length of four years, so that has to be outrageously tempting for Kovy Kash. There’s a deadline on the deal, too, which makes it sound a little suspect, but the CBC’s Elliotte Friedman generally has good sources.
In any event, deadline or not, a deal from the KHL would be very attractive to Kovalchuk. Not only would the league pay him buckets of money for just showing up, he’d earn it with lower taxes and without that pesky escrow to worry about.
There’s also word that Los Angeles is interested in Kovalchuk. The idea here is that Dean Lombardi’s not interested but team CEO Tim Leiweke is. The notion of pushing Kovalchuk as a big star in California could be worth cracking open the vault for, even if the Kings seem relatively satisfied with their roster after finally hitting the post-season last year. Still, the addition of a player of Kovalchuk’s level has to be tempting.
And, of course, the possibility of his remaining in New Jersey is always open. Apparently even Martin Brodeur is lobbying for his Devils to make Kovy and offer he can’t refuse, but there’s no telling if he fits in the team’s plans at this point and time.
As you can see, the Kovalchuk situation is a mixed bag of big possibilities and bigger cash. Wherever he lands, you can rest assured that he won’t be hurting in the pocket book anytime soon.
UPDATE: Reports are emerging that the New York Islanders have made Kovalchuk an offer in the neighbourhood of ten years. The deal is said to potentially be in the $100 million range. The deal, enormous as it would be, could actually work out to help the Islanders in terms of salary as they find themselves below the cap floor at this point and time. Of course, signing a DiPietro-esque contract in Long Island is likely a mistake for Kovalchuk if he has any intention of winning. Apologies to all three Islander fans.
Posted by Jordan Richardson.