In relatively unsurprising news, Ilya Kovalchuk has decided to remain a New Jersey Devil. Kovalchuk, probably the most prominent free agent in the history of the NHL, announced that he will be returning to Jersey after a prolonged process that included a near-signing with the Devils, and several near signings with the Los Angeles Kings. In the end, a deal rumored to be 17 years and over $100 million was “enough” to keep Kovalchuk in America’s Armpit. Many will call the process dramatic and LeBron-esque, but this was far from it. Kovalchuk never commanded the spotlight like the others. The sick thing is that Kovalchuk will still be a Devil when I turn 40. I’m 26 now. That is incredibly disturbing. Update: The deal is $102 million over 17 years, broken down to $10 million for the first 8 years, and $7.5 million for the next 2 years. The remaining $7 million is distributed over 7 years.
Update 1:45pm: Lyle Richardson (Spector’s Hockey) is reporting, via Hockeybuzz (Eklund), that Simon Gagne has been dealt to the Tampa Bay Lightning. More later.
Update 2:20pm: Gagne has indeed been traded to the Tampa Bay Lightning. Names rumored to be coming back include goalie Mike Smith, and prospects Dana Tyrell and Ty Wishart. Not saying this is a 3-for-1 swap, just saying those are names being tossed around.
Update 2:35pm: Gagne to TB for Matt Walker and a 4th round pick. Walker is a 30 year old defenseman with just 4 NHL goals in his entire career, but does have 444 PIMs to go with it. This was a clear salary dump for the Flyers, as Walker is a $1.7 million cap hit (albeit for three more years), compared to Gagne’s $5.25 million for this season. This was an absolute steal by new Tampa GM Steve Yzerman, who has had a terrific offseason thus far.