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Kings' Lombardi: 'I don't think it's any surprise' Devils won Kovalchuk

Ilya Kovalchuk’s deal with the Devils, according to initial news reports, could be worth as much as $150 million over the 17-year life of the deal — it will end when he’s 44 — but other reports put the value at closer to $100 million.

It’s believed the Kings’ offer was around $80 million for 15 years. They said they wouldn’t go to $100 million because they want to retain salary cap space to re-sign stellar defenseman Drew Doughty, who can become a restricted free agent July 1, as well as to retain Jack Johnson and Wayne Simmonds while also adding pieces to upgrade their offense.

Here's the announcement from Kovalchuk's agent, Jay Grossman.

Kings General Manager Dean Lombardi said he learned of Kovalchuk’s decision about 9:30 a.m. PDT.

“We left our best offer out there on Thursday and it was a yes or no. There wasn’t really that much to talk about,” he said.

Asked if he felt the Kings had a legitimate chance to sign Kovalchuk or or if Grossman merely used the Kings to get a better offer from New Jersey, Lombardi said it would be impossible to know “until years later.”

He added, “I don’t think it’s any surprise that it’s New Jersey. I think we were genuinely in it. But as far as saying being used, quite frankly that’s the agent’s job, whether you want to call it being used or building leverage for his client. That’s his job by definition. At times you get upset about it but that’s the reality. That’s his job, to build up as much leverage as possible and get as much as he can for his client.”

And Kovalchuk got a lot — more than the Kings felt comfortable paying.

“The job is to put the best deal you can out there that works in all quarters,” Lombardi said, adding that he factored in the team’s ability to generate revenues, how a front-loaded contract would affect his ability to re-sign Doughty and the impact Kovalchuk would have in the locker room.

“In the end if you just say you’ve got to have him and pay whatever it takes, you’re wrought with pitfalls. Your job is to work through it and put your best offer out there. If it don’t work, it don’t work. Somebody else will come along.”

It won’t be Simon Gagne: the Flyers traded him to Tampa Bay for defenseman Matt Walker and a fourth-round draft pick.

More to come soon.

--Helene Elliott
 

 
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