Should the Avalanche bring in more experience? Does Alex Kovalev hope to play in the NHL next season? Could the Canadiens re-sign Hal Gill and Andrei Kostitsyn this summer?
DENVER POST: Terry Frei recently suggested the Colorado Avalanche’s plan to rebuild via affordable youth doesn’t appear to be working, calling for the plan to be supplemented with ” a major and relatively pricey unrestricted free agent or two…and not just a goaltender.” Frei accused the organization of over-rating its ability to spot and nurture young talent, and with a few exceptions (Matt Duchene) over-rating that young talent. He also wondered if Peter Mueller, who was sidelined this season to a concussion, will ever play again, and if Tomas Fleischmann, who missed the second half of the season to blood clots, can be counted upon to stay healthy if the team re-signs him.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Frei raises some good points here, but it remains to be seen if the Avs front office diverts from their plan. They certainly need an upgrade in goal, plus one or two experienced physical defensemen. I think he’s being a little harsh in his criticism of the club’s young talent, as the promise is certainly there, and Duchene seems bound for stardom. His points about Mueller and Fleischmann however cannot be ignored, and it might be worthwhile for the Avs to consider replacing them given their health issues.
PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE: Dejan Kovacevic recently interviewed Penguins veteran forward Alex Kovalev, who at 38 claims he’d still searching, still trying to win another Stanley Cup championship. Kovalev claims he still loves playing and isn’t ready to stop, adding he’d love to remain with the Penguins after this season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: His age, declining production and criticism of inconsistency (justified or not) will likely make it very difficult for Kovalev to return to the NHL next season. It’s not impossible, and if he’s willing to accept a significant pay cut from the $5 million he earned this season, he could perhaps get a one-year deal with a team seeking experienced offensive depth, particularly on the power-play. Still, I wouldn’t be surprised if this season becomes Kovalev’s last in the NHL.
MONTREAL GAZETTE: Jack Todd recently suggested veteran defenseman Hal Gill’s steadying influence upon young defense partner P.K. Subban warrants the Canadiens re-signing him to a one-year deal. Todd also believes forward Andrei Kostitsyn has earned another contract with the Canadiens.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Definitely agree with Todd’s assessment of Gill, who’s done a fine job mentoring Subban as well as being a reliable defensive blueliner for the Habs. Kostitsyn’s inconsistency however could be a factor in negotiating a potential extension. Most Habs fans probably want him gone, but he has been a 20-goal, 40-point forward in two of the past three seasons. If there’s no upgrade available for the same price ($3.25 million per season) Kostitsyn earned on his current contract, they could simply re-sign him for another year or two for slightly more than his current salary.