Ilya Kovalchuk Balks At Joining L.A.; What Now?

Mark RitterSenior Writer IJuly 4, 2010

PHILADELPHIA - APRIL 20:  Ilya Kovalchuk #17 of the New Jersey Devils skates against the Philadelphia Flyers in Game Four of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2010 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at the Wachovia Center on April 20, 2010 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Flyers defeated the Devils 4-1 to take a three games to one lead in their best of seven series.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

After tons of speculation suggesting that highly sought after free agent sniper, Ilya Kovalchuk was going to sign with the Los Angeles Kings, the L.A. Times is reporting that they were informed by Kings’ general manager Dean Lombardi that Kovalchuk would not be headed to Tinseltown.

“We took our best shot to meet his (Kovalchuk’s) needs and the teams”, Lombardi wrote to the L.A. Times via email.

At this point there are still a number of NHL teams still interested in Kovalchuk, including the New Jersey Devils, Colorado Avalanche, and the New York Islanders—who are said to have tendered a ten-year $10 million dollar deal to Kovalchuk, the same amount he turned down from the Atlanta Thrashers organization just a few months ago.

While it is unknown as to how much money and what kind of term the Kings were offering Kovalchuk, his decision to turn down the Kings is puzzling.

Blessed with a ton of young/dynamic talent, the Kings would be able to offer Kovalchuk a legitimate chance to win a Stanley Cup Championship right away. He would also have huge star power, advertising opportunities, and red carpet treatment like he has never seen before.

It appears as if Kovalchuk’s final destination (which may also include the KHL) will be based on money. That said, the New Jersey Devils also have a good chance of making a Stanley Cup appearance, while the Islanders and Avalanche would seem to be more of a long shot.

According to, Colorado has a total of 19 players signed with $24,500,833 (all figures courtesy of and in U.S. dollars) in cap space left to spend. The New York Islanders have 20 players under contract with $28,137,433 in cap space remaining, while the Devils have a total of 18 players under contract with just under $5 million in cap space remaining—making them a tough fit for Kovalchuk.

Other teams that have excessive cap space include the St. Louis Blues (14 players signed, $27,910,000 in cap space) and Phoenix Coyotes (21 players signed, $14,218,750 in cap space)—both of which would be hard-pressed to attract the likes of Kovalchuk, regardless of the monetary gains that he could make.

One team that is not being mentioned are the Edmonton Oilers who just put big-ticket defenseman Sheldon Souray and his $5.4 million contract on waivers.

Could the Oilers, who despite adding Taylor Hall to their roster, be trying to get in the running for Kovalchuk?

Edmonton’s inability to add a star to their organization has been well documented over the years, the addition of Hall and Kovalchuk in one summer would have that city talking the Stanley Cup in no time!

For the record, the Oilers have 19 players signed with $15,631,333 left in cap space—more than enough room to get Kovalchuk a done deal.

One thing’s for sure, as much as the Kovalchuk saga seems to be dragging on, it’s just the beginning. Clearly, despite his defensive shortcoming, questionable playoff and Olympic performances Kovalchuk is in high demand.

Until next time,