The Los Angeles Times is reporting that the Los Angeles Kings are now officially out of the Ilya Kovalchuk sweepstakes.
The Kings are said to have sat down with Kovalchuk on Wednesday in hopes of revisiting contract talks and coming to some sort of deal.
Unfortunately, it appears as if Kovalchuk’s demands are just too high, which has resulted in King’s general manager Dean Lombardi pulling the plug on a deal.
The reality is, the Kings know they have a lot of good young talent on their team, and as such, they will have to tread carefully if they choose to re-sign them. This looks to be the direction the team is leaning towards.
Los Angeles Kings’ governor Tim Leiweke told the times, “Dean is trying here, but we know what we need in cap space going forward to keep our nucleus together. We can't let one guy throw us into panic in a year or two. It is not about cash. It is about cap.”
It’s a shame the two sides couldn’t work out a deal. Kovalchuk would have been a tremendous fit for the Kings and the marketing opportunities afforded to Kovalchuk would have been off the charts.
It appears as if the Kovalchuk camp will now turn its sights back to the New Jersey Devils, who were rumored to have offered Kovalchuk a seven-year, $60 million deal earlier this week.
The New York Islanders have also been rumored to be in pursuit of Kovalchuk with as much as $100 million over 10 years being offered, but those rumors look to have no validity to them as it has been very quiet on the Islanders front.
The KHL remains an option for Kovalchuk, although it has been said that the money Kovalchuk was seeking from the KHL may not be as lucrative as he once thought. This has resulted in the refocused effort on finding a suitable NHL offer.
Fellow Russian Evgeni Nabokov, who played a total of 563 NHL games with the San Jose Sharks, signed a four-year, $24 million contract with SKA St. Petersburg of the KHL, leading many to speculate that other Russians (including Kovalchuk) could be looking to cut ties with the NHL in favor of playing at home.
While the KHL offers great food for fodder, I still can’t see a player of Kovalchuk’s ilk and age looking to leave the NHL.
Simply put, it’s too early and you've just got to believe that Kovalchuk is serious about winning a Stanley Cup first.
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