There seems to be a bit of a log jam in the free agent market. It is almost as if one man is controlling the fate of the entire NHL, and it isn't Gary Bettman.
Ilya Kovalchuk is pulling the string of more than one GM in the NHL right now as well as thousands of fans the world over.
When I say world, I mean world. It's easy to forget that there are more than a few fans over in Europe right now who would love the chance to see the NHL's most potent scoring threat since the lockout in '04-'05 up close and personal.
This quote from the Leafs Blogger Mike Ulmer sums it up almost perfectly, "what Kovalchuk is doing, aside from nothing, is choking off the vital flow of hockey news. I know it’s summer, but a bear’s heart doesn’t stop beating just because he’s hibernating."
The trouble it seem is that almost every other free agent after draft day has been sitting at home wondering where they will be playing next year.
The question isn't really whether the likes of Ruslan Salie, Andy Sutton, Freddy Modin, and Le Stempniak will play next year.
There is still an awful lot of talent left in the 2010 NHL agent pool to pick from.
Is it possible that one man can wield that much power in professional sport? I certainly hope not, it would be a very dangerous precedent to set.
If I were the NHL GMs, I would just say "the hell with you Kovi, I'm taking my Scooby Doo lunch box and I'm going the hell home"!
Tomas Kaberle may be another victim of this debacle with Kovalchuk.
While there is no way I could say for certain, it is within the realm of possibility that Burke is holding, or being forced to hold on to Kaberle because other teams are so uncertain of what they will do depending on where Kovi lands.
One problem that Kovi will have is that he's going to have to get a contract bigger than the $101 million, 12-year deal that he was offered in Atlanta or he'll look more than a little silly.
LA's GM Dean Lombardi has said that the two sides are unable to come to an agreement and consequently the Kings are out.
Lou Lameriello of the Devils has said from the start that if he wanted to stay in New Jersey, Kovalchuck would be welcome and 'Lucky Lou' would find a way to make it happen.
There was a rumor that the Islanders had made an offer for the highly touted winger but Devils beat writer Tom Gulitti says although Islanders GM Garth Snow did make contact with Camp Kovi with questions regarding money and length of contract desired, there was never a formal offer made.
So what does all of this mean? I wish I had an answer for you, but I don't. I know this much: Kovi or no Kovi, Brian Burke won't sit on his laurels for much longer simply because he can't.
The window for trading Kaberle will officially close on Aug. 15.
Speaking of Lee Stempniak. I wonder if he wouldn't look a little better this time around with the Leafs given the influx of youth the team has experienced.
Although his 18 points in 18 games for the Coyotes at the end of last season was possibly a fluke...what if?
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