Be Careful What You Wish for: Understanding the Ilya Kovalchuk Saga
Ilya Kovalchuk is a rare talent. There have been only a handful of players in the history of the NHL who could be counted on to score 40 or more goals every season. He is one of those few.
But I do NOT want him on my team.
My team is the New York Islanders. As you should know by now, if you have not been stranded on Gilligan's Island, the Islanders were confirmed as one of three teams aggressively pursuing Kovy. And you should also know that the Islanders have ended that pursuit.
Before going further, I should add that press reports of the Isles offering Kovy a 10-year deal worth $100 million were wild exaggerations. The offer, apparently, was for about half that length and amount. Kovy wanted more and apparently New Jersey Devils' General Manager Lou Lamoriello was willing to give it to him. Now Lou is trying to figure out whose salaries he is going to have to dump to make room for Kovy.
Why don't I want Kovy for my team? Well, there are his legendary defensive lapses.
The Isles have one of the best two-way defense men in the game in Mark Streit. They have an excellent goaltender in Dwayne Roloson and several blue chip prospects coming up in the system. They also have several excellent defensive forwards. But they gave up 264 goals last season and the last thing they need is a forward who doesn't pay attention to his own end.
The Isles have developed an excellent "room." There is a real "band of brothers" feel to the team. Bringing in one player making between two and 10 times as much as anybody else would probably upset that chemistry.
Beware the Blackhawk syndrome. The Isles have a lot of cap room now, but in a few years they will have to give players like John Tavares, Nino Niederreiter, Kyle Okposo, Josh Bailey, and others big paydays. Giving Kovy his money could have caused the departure of some stars.
The Isles don't really need the additional offense he offers in the long term. Between Tavares, Niederreiter, Matt Moulson, Okposo, Bailey, Kirill Kabanov, Anders Lee, and Brock Nelson, among others, the Isles will get more than enough offense to carry the team to Stanley Cup glory.
Many have offered up critiques of Kovy as greedy, gutless, and lacking in heart. These criticisms may or may not be valid, but it doesn't matter. The reasons I have cited above are more than sufficient for me not to want Kovy on the Islanders.
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