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Kovalchuk Holding Up The Market

by Staff Writer / Toronto Maple Leafs
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I am a small and petty man.

The fact that I admit this does not make me any less so.

And so I am wondering how Ilya Kovulchuk is doing today.

This is no trifling matter. Right now Ilya Kovalchuk is the most important person in the hockey world.

Since he entered the league, Kovalchuk has been the second most productive goalscorer in the game other than Alexander Ovechkin and there is no shame in that.

Hockey fans in Atlanta, and I will poke no fun at their number, wanted Kovulchuk back.

The owners wanted him back. The general manager wanted him back.

And so, the Thrashers offered Kovalchuk stupid money: $101 million over a dozen years.

Nope, he said. Not good enough.

Think about that for a minute. What can’t you buy with $101 million that you could buy with, say, $90 million? No, that isn’t a rhetorical question. Click here to find out.

Please, spare me the puppy drool about wanting to go to a winning team. Kovalchuk is speaking with the Los Angeles Kings and the New Jersey Devils. If lifestyle was the only consideration, he would go to LA. If access to championships were his goal, he would find himself in Jersey.

He has, of course, signed with no one. Kovalchuk needs to save face, he wants a better offer than the Atlanta deal. Imagine Snow White spending the ball fruitlessly looking for a better offer after telling Prince Charming “Nope, not good enough.”

But what Kovalchuk is doing, aside from nothing, is choking off the vital flow of hockey news. I know it’s summer, but a bear’s heart doesn’t stop beating just because he’s hibernating.

They may not care in Nashville or Long Island but we here in The Epicentre Of The Hockey Universe could use a little juice. The signing of Mike Zigomanis isn’t going to cut it.

Ilya Kovalchuk is the guy on the highway who stops paying attention, rams into a car and then sentences the people behind him to two hours worth of waiting.

If the Kings don’t sign Kovalchuk, they will be in the market for another forward and might also address that need by trading one of a flock of young defencemen. If the Devils sign Kovalchuk, they will likely have to clear cap space.

The Bruins are not known to have taken Marc Savard off the market and with Tomas Kaberle as their bargaining chip, the Leafs are looking for a top-six forward. If they sent Kaberle out, brought Keith Aulie into the mix and sent Jeff Finger and his $3.5 million contract to the Marlies, the Maple Leafs would have $7.3 million in available cap space with a dozen forwards, six defence and two goalies in tow.

The Philadelphia Flyers continue to look for a home for Simon Gagne and his $5.25 million contract and the Leafs are believed to be among a small group of teams considering him.

And those are only the publicly-held scenarios. More often than not, teams trade players untouched by trade rumours.

I know,  the games don’t start in earnest until October 7. But this is the season for digestion, quiet contemplation and mental line juggling.

It’s summer, there are lineups to dawdle over, deals to consummate. All that is standing in the way it seems is Ilya Kovalchuk. It brings to mind the $101 million he turned down from Atlanta.

It’s never smart to turn down Prince Charming.
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