The goat rodeo is finally over. Ilya Kovalchuk has found his team for 2010-11, and beyond.
The Russian right-winger signed a staggering, 17-year $102 million deal with New Jersey today, ending the courtship for the biggest name in the 2010 free agent pool. After much speculation that Kovalchuk would end up in Los Angeles, he stayed with New Jersey – the team that sold the farm to get him at the trade deadline.
My hat goes off to Dean Lombardi out in LA. He refused to play Kovalchuk’s game. In fact, Lombardi toyed with the winger in order to get the deal he wanted. Ultimately, the Kings didn’t get their target but, it is probably better off for their future cap situation. Lombardi did the right thing, he knew what he could spend and wouldn’t go higher, good job on his part.
As for the Devils, they are loaded for bear this season. With the addition of Kovalchuk, Jason Arnott, Henrik Tallinder and Anton Volchenkov – not to mention backup Johan Hedberg – they are primed for a Cup run.
Hedberg should see more time than Yann Danis and Kevin Weekes combined in order to give Marty Brodeur the necessary rest for the postseason. While, Tallinder and Volchenkov bolster a defense that lost their top two players over the past season (Johny Oduya and Paul Martin). Arnott already added depth to a solid forward corps, Kovy makes them that much better.
Even with Pittsburgh’s additions, New Jersey seems poised to repeat as Atlantic Division champions.
While I think it is foolhardy to sign anyone for more than six years, I think Kovalchuk will help this team down the road. He is scary talented and can score at any given moment. Hopefully this doesn’t handcuff their future cap situation. You wouldn’t want to be in a bad position in five years and need to buy out this deal to alleviate cap space – yikes. It is a bad contract in both term and dollars. Eight years for $60 million wouldn’t be as bad, that is probably what I would have offered.
All-in-all, this was the right choice for the team and player. Kovalchuk is too young to go to the retirement home that is the KHL and the Devils can use his offense. This seems to be a good marriage. If they let him create offensively they might get their money’s worth.
In other news, the Flyers have unloaded some talent in order to fit under the cap. Simon Gagne has been shipped to Tampa Bay for a fourth round pick and defenseman Matt Walker. Great deal for Tampa in terms of talent, good deal for Philly because they can fit under the cap.
This is cut and dry. It was a trade Philly had to make and the Lightning were able to put together the right pieces. What irks me, what truly irks me, is that this is a trade that the Sabres could have pulled off. Just like the Cam Barker trade during the year or the Nathan Horton deal this offseason.
I don’t want to come across like an angry Sabres fan who wants a deal made just so something happened. I know enough to know that isn’t how this works. But, these are deals that the Sabres certainly have the personnel for and, more importantly, would improve the team.
I think the Horton and Gagne deals are the most glaring, Gagne more so because of what it took to get him.
I know Darcy Regier wouldn’t mind parting with a fourth-round selection. No GM would. On top of that sending Chris Butler, or any of our defensive prospects, wouldn’t be hard to part with. The Flyers don’t really need Walker, he will see time with the big club. But, they have Pronger, Timonen, Carle, Coburn and Meszaros already. Walker is probably their sixth, maybe seventh. So it really wouldn’t matter.
Pull the GD trigger on that Darcy. You vastly improve your powerplay potency and your top six. Not to mention, that makes Drew Stafford way more expendable than he already is. Rumor has it the Canucks need to unload a defenseman and are interested in a winger. Hey! Stafford fills that role and your new (better) defenseman can step in for Chris Butler, or whoever was shipped away. Seems rather logical to me. Not to mention, it doesn’t seem to be trading for the sake of trading. But, rather, trading to improve your squad.
This is why the NHL offseason is so frustrating in Buffalo. I don’t need Ilya, he’s too expensive and wouldn’t work well here. But, when I see a logical trade that could easily be made by the Sabres, I get very frustrated with how out team operates.