Archive for Ilya Kovalchuk


A Look Ahead: Ilya Kovalchuk

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Ilya KovalchukThe biggest name heading into the 2010 free agency period is Atlanta Thrashers RW Ilya Kovalchuk. He will definitely get top dollar if he hits the open market, but how much he will get is already starting to generate buzz. ESPN cites sources ( that he is on the verge of signing a deal forth $11.3 million average over 9 years, which nets him over $100 million. Let’s let that sink in for a while before I pick this apart (aside from the fact that the article states that Boston, with all those draft picks, can be a possible target. Um, no. Zero cap space).

First and foremost, $11.3 million is exactly 20% of the current NHL salary cap ceiling. The current CBA states that no player shall make more than 20% of the salary cap ceiling. Considering that the salary cap will most likely decrease next year (cap numbers are tied to revenue, no one spends money in a recession), $11.3 million will almost definitely be against the current CBA.

Second, Kovalchuk is just awful in his own end. He is a combined -85 in his seven years in Atlanta, with his best year being 2006-2007, when he finished as a -2. He has never finished a year in on the positive end of this stat, and is a consistent liability in his own zone.

Third, Kovalchuk has never once broken 100 points in a season. Ever. He has five straight seasons of 40+ goals, and two 50+ goal seasons, but never has he once broken 100 points. Alex Ovechkin is, well Alex Ovechkin, and he makes $9 million a year, going up to $10 million a year in 2014. Is Kovalchuk worth $2 million more than Ovechkin. I think not.

As important to the survival of hockey in Atlanta as Kovalchuk is, he probably will net the most in return at the trade deadline. Atlanta is a team with a lot of holes, and rebuilding with everything GM Don Waddell can get for Kovalchuk is a very good start. If they can net a good young prospect, someone who is hyped up and they can market, then there is no loss in terms of marketing, as long as it’s presented properly. I am one of the many who believe that in order for Atlanta to become a good franchise, they need to trade Kovalchuk. I thought so last year, and not trading him this year would be asinine.

Atlanta already has some nice chips in place with Evander Kane, Zach Bogosian, Tobias Enstrom, and Bryan Little. That said, they need more than Kovalchuk in order to compete. Kane has the potential to match Kovalchuk’s production in the future, and if you pair him with Little, that’s a good first line. Bogosian and Enstrom are capable of anchoring a blue line.

Trading Kovalchuk though, is a whole other situation. A trading partner will have to be a contender, with cap room (or expendable pieces to create the necessary cap room) to fit Kovalchuk’s pro-rated $6.4 million cap hit (if you assume there are 20 games in the season after the trade deadline, that amounts to roughly $1.56 million), with a good enough farm system to deal non-roster players, and with enough off-season cap space to make a legitimate run to sign him long-term. It’s a tough task, but it’s doable.

If I had to make a guess, if the Blues are competing for a Division crown (with Detroit and Chicago’s suspect goaltending, it’s possible), or are fairly locked into a playoff spot, come the trade deadline, I would guess that St. Louis would make a run at him. They will definitely have the cap space (currently $5 million under the cap, they can practically fit him without dumping salary). They definitely have the prospects, #1 on HockeysFuture Organization Rankings. They can definitely compete. And with Paul Kariya’s $6 million coming off the books, they can definitely make a run to sign him long term.

I think a deal centered around Lars Eller/Aaron Palushaj, Jake Allen, Carlo Colaiacovo (cap space), Patrick Berglund/BJ Crombeen/David Perron, and a first round pick in exchange for Kovalchuk and Colby Armstrong could get it done. It’s a nice balance of two prospects, a roster player, a high pick, and cap space in exchange for Kovalchuk and a role player.

You heard it here first, if the Blues are competing, Kovalchuk goes to St. Louis.

Image Credit: Dave Sandford/Getty Images

Categories : Business of Hockey
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Looking for that power forward

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Scott Burnside of ESPN ran a piece yesterday discussing what he terms “this year’s most tradable players,” a fan friendly list of a players likely to be moved in the weeks leading up to the deadline. There’s sexy names up and down the list, but for the most part the players either don’t fit any of the Blueshirts’ needs (Manny Fernandez, Vesa Toskala, The Bulinwall) or are just flat out unattainable because of talent/cap reasons (Jay Bouwmeester, Ilya Kovalchuk, Vinny Lecavalier, Marian Gaborik, Jason Spezza), except for one guy: Keith Tkachuk.

It seems like there’s a Tkachuk-to-the-Rangers rumor every year, and just like every other year the soon to be 37 year old would fill two needs: a top six forward and a guy that’ll park himself in front of the net with a man advantage. Tkachuk’s not Nik Antropov huge, but he does offer some size (listed at 6’2″, 231 lbs) and there’s a darn good chance he’ll be re-energized by joining a playoff team after making the postseason just once in the past four seasons (’06-’07 with Atlanta). He’s still got a nose for the net, potting fifteen goals this year (including the first goal in Sunday’s All Star Game) despite minimal help from his Blues teammates, and his ten power play goals (sixth most in the league) would far and away lead the club.

Now, how does the money work? Tkachuk’s making $4.5M this year and has a $4M cap number according to NHL Numbers, and is due to hit the free agent market following the season. That $4M cap hit is a bit of an eyesore but it’s certainly doable. Perhaps the deal could be expanded to included a physical (and cap friendly) defensman like Jeff Woywitka or Roman Polak, both of whom will be restricted free agents after the season. Adding that extra player would make giving up multiple young players/picks for Tkachuk much easier to swallow.

Bill Guerin’s name has been connected to the Rangers in the past few weeks, but Tkachuk is almost the exact same player production wise (15 G, 16 A vs 14 G, 18 A) except sixteen months younger and with a more favorable contract. Hopefully we hear some more about this in the coming weeks.

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The Trade Deadline

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It’s that time of the season where everyone not tied to a ridiculous salary (Drury, Gomez, Redden, Rozsival, Lundqvist) is mentioned in some sort of trade rumor. This is also the time of the season where we know who the definite sellers are (Islanders, Senators, Panthers, Thrashers, Blues) and who, barring a huge winning streak, the sellers will be (Lightning, Leafs, Predators, Kings).

If you’re dreaming of Kovalchuk or Bouwmeester in Ranger blue, then keep dreaming. The price tag on those two will be enormous. For Kovalchuk, think Staal, Anisimov, Del Zotto and a 1st rounder as a start. For Bouwmeester, think Staal, Anisimov and a 1st rounder to start. Kovalchuk is more expensive right now because he’s under contract for next year too. You also have to think about whatever throw-ins are needed to get the cap situation to work (Kalinin, Mara, Prucha, any one of Dawes / Callahan / Korpikoski). Big trades rarely happen in the NHL anymore, and a trade for either of these guys leaves the future in doubt. Once you get past those prospects, it’s a bunch of 3rd liners (minus Grachev) or 3rd pairing defensemen.

The Rangers have two glaring needs: a top six wing, and a bruiser defenseman (or a PP QB). The most obvious person to fill the first void would be Bill Guerin, but I highly doubt the Islanders would trade in-division, and I doubt Sather wants to give a draft pick + young player to a division rival.

One name that jumps out at me is Filip Kuba. He would be a rental player, as he’s a UFA after the season. The problem is that he would cost Dawes and a 4th rounder, plus whatever has to be thrown in to make the cap situation work. I don’t trust Sather with free agents, but he has been able to pull off some sparkling trades (Tyutin for Zherdev? Really?).

Another name that jumps out at me is Keith Tkachuk. He’s 2nd in scoring on a Blues team sans Kariya, and he’s a big physical body that they will need. He will crash the net and get the rebound goals that most of this current roster is scared, or too small, to do. His cost will be similar to Guerin’s cost (think Dawes + 3rd rounder, and then various salary cap players thrown in). JD will not be giving us a discount, so don’t even bother thinking it.

As for bruiser defensemen, how about Denis Gauthier? He’s 6’2 220, and is currently 13th in the league in hits with 120. he doesn’t take that many penalties (39 PIMS, with 1 fighting major, so 17 minor penalties all year). His one drawback is that he’s a -9 (this would actually tie him with Rozsival and Kalinin for worst +/- amongst defensemen), but he’s -9 on a team that called Jason Labarbera its starter for half the season. So he may actually be an upgrade there.

I think a move like Gauthier, who won’t cost more than a draft pick and whoever is thrown in to make the salary cap work (Gauthier made $2.1 million this year), is more likely than a move for Kuba/Tkachuk.

I love this time of year. I’ll post valid rumors (ie: comes from a legitimate source, not just someone behind a screen making trades in NHL 09) as I hear them.

Update 10:30am: I forgot to mention the Chris Pronger rumors. He would fill two holes, PP QB and bruiser defensemen (even if he does get schooled every now and then). He would cost the same as Bouwmeester, and is under contract for one more year ($6.25 million cap hit). A trade for Pronger isn’t happening unless Redden or Rozsival get thrown in. So basically, it’s extremely unlikely.

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