Both NHL.com and Chris Botta of Islanders Point Blank are reporting that Garth Snow is in discussions to bring Kovalchuk to the Islanders. The numbers being thrown around right now are in the range of 10 million over 10 years. With the Devils recent signings they can only offer 7.5 million (and that's if they go over the 10% that your allowed to go over during FA, you still need to get back under the cap) and the Kings have been silent on him for most of today. I'll try to boil down the drama. Word from the Ilya Kovalchuk camp is that he wants to win now and plans to sign with the Devils unless the Kings can offer more then the Devils. Supposedly the Kings offered him 7 Million a year, while the Devils have told him to wait until they clear space for him. This appears to be an interesting move by Lou in order to get Kovy in a position that there are no suitors who can afford him, allowing Lou to swoop in and offer him a lower deal. Much like how Nabakov and Turco are going to have to take much less then 6 million soon if they want to play in the NHL this year.
The drama doesn't end there though. Supposedly Wang is all for the deal, with the hopes that a big name signing will help push The Lighthouse Project through the Town Of Hempstead. It is also an obvious quick fix for the Islanders who are 9 million under the cap floor currently. At 10 Million Kovy would be even with Roberto Luongo and Vincent Lecavalier for most expensive player in the league. Right now it looks a lot like Kovy is talking to the Islanders because they are the only team with the cap space for his 10 million dollar demands. In the end though it's going to be about whether Kovy wants to win now or make money. But with free agency even a simple question like that is surrounded by a smoke screen. No one is going to know whether he wants to win or wants the money until he signs somewhere.
#17 / Left Wing / New Jersey Devils
Apr 15, 1983
What Kovy brings to the table can not be discounted though. Last season he was tied for Tenth overall in the league in points. In his rookie year (at 18 years old) he was second on the team in points and led the team in goals with 26. In his second year he finished with 38 goals, only 3 behind team leader Dany Heatley. In his third season (03-04) he led the team in points and only once since then has he not led the team in points. In this his final contract year he was sent to the Devils. In 27 regular season games with the Devils he put up 27 points, good enough for seventh on the team for the year. On a team full of players who have more playoff experience then him he led the team with 6 points in 5 games. That was good enough to tie for the team lead in Assists and Goals during the first round series. In 621 games he has put up 642 points (338 G 304 A).
The talent is undoubtedly there. Kovy is a player who has put up incredible numbers the last few seasons and should be on the upswing of his career. In the next few years if the cap keeps going up and players salaries with it, we might consider having a 30 year old Kovy for only 10 million a steal. Then again we all know far too well what might happens when a long term contract goes wrong.