Remember Ilya Kovalchuk? He's still available...
Rumors continue to fly, but there's no concrete news and only another rumor to report regarding the Ilya Kovalchuk sweepstakes.
Larry Brooks reported Saturday that the New Jersey Devils have made a huge, long-term offer that would be very uncharacteristic of General Manager Lou Lamoriello if true: 17 years at more than $100 million, which would keep Kovalchuk on the payroll until he's 44.
As of now, Lamoriello doesn't have the cap space to do a deal remotely like that, having been unsuccessful in his efforts to trade Brian Rolston and at least one other player. Plus, with the league having investigated the long-term deals signed in recent years by Marian Hossa, Chris Pronger and Roberto Luongo, it seems unlikely that Lamoriello would put himself in Commissioner Gary Bettman's bad graces by getting involved in another contract that will long outlast the player.
Also, that kind of offer would be a huge leap from the Devils' previously reported offer of $60 million over seven years. Why would they raise the stakes so dramatically when no one else has been bidding since the Kings turned away a second time, earlier this week?
It's believed that the Kings are not preparing to make a new offer to Kovalchuk at this point. They'd take a call from Kovalchuk's camp if agent Jay Grossman were to contact them again, but they are standing firm on having made their best offer -- which varies according to which source you believe. Brooks cited a 12-year, $63.6-million deal, but a 13-year, $84.5-million figure has been thrown around, too. They might have gone to a $7.5-million or $8-million average annual value on a shorter deal, say, seven or eight years, but it's likely they won't go higher than that.
No comments from the Kings or from Grossman.
Once Kovalchuk signs somewhere -- New Jersey, the Kings, or Russia's KHL -- watch for the trade floodgates to open. The Kings still want a top-six forward and a top-five defenseman, and several other teams still have to move players to clear salary cap space.
-- Helene Elliott