Fallout from Ilya Kovalchuk’s NHL retirement, five NHL players in line for big paydays, an update on the Coyotes, and more.
PUCK DADDY: Ilya Kovalchuk’s contract with SKA St Petersburg could be between $15-$20 million per season (at a taxation rate of only 13 percent).
NORTHJERSEY.COM: Tom Gulitti reports Kovalchuk will be permitted to play in the KHL because his contract with the New Jersey Devils was officially voided when he filed his NHL retirement papers. If the Devils had fought it, Kovalchuk could’ve been prevented from playing elsewhere and the Devils could’ve tolled his contract forward for each year he didn’t complete.
The Devils retain his NHL rights for now, and if Kovalchuk were to unretire, the 30 NHL governors would have to okay his return. Gulitti suggests the timing may have hurt the Devils in the UFA market, as they might have pursued different players had Kovalchuk retired before July 5th. On the other hand, a team without Kovalchuk could have been unattractive to potential free agents and affected the Devils efforts to re-sign Patrik Elias. The Devils also won’t get back the first round pick they forfeited as a penalty for cap circumvention over Kovalchuk’s original contract with them.
SPORTSNET.CA: Chris Johnston wonders if Kovalchuk’s decision could spur other Russian or European NHL stars to follow his example, or prompt promising young Russian players to forsake the NHL and play in the KHL.
SPORTING NEWS: Jesse Spector spoke with a player agent who suggested Kovalchuk’s decision “sets Russian players back 50 years”. The agent suggested NHL teams could find Russian players less trustworthy.
NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks dismissed the notion Kovalchuk’s big contract cost the Devils a chance to re-sign Zach Parise last year. He noted the Devils repeatedly approached Parise about a new contract, but the former Devils captain demurred, preferring instead to return to Minnesota.
CBC.CA: Some current and former NHL players responded with shock, confusion and anger over Kovalchuk’s decision. Jeremy Roenick in particular ripped Kovalchuk on Twitter, repeatedly calling the winger “selfish”.
DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Mike Heika tries to allay potential concerns forward Valeri Nichushkin, the Stars first round pick this year, could stay in Russia.
TRIBLIVE.COM: Rob Rossi reports Pittsburgh Penguins superstar Evgeni Malkin prefers playing in the NHL rather than the KHL. Malkin apparently didn’t like the attention he received when he played there during the lockout. He also didn’t like the travel and outdated practice methods.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Regarding the Devils, TSN’s Bob McKenzie put it best: Kovalchuk’s retirement brings short-term pain (losing their best forward) but long-term financial gain (getting out of a lengthy, expensive contract for a depreciating asset).
Ever since Alexander Radulov left the Nashville Predators in 2008 to play in the KHL, NHL teams were growing leery of drafting young Russians. Kovalchuk’s departure likely won’t help the situation, stoking the unfair stereotype of Russian players as greedy, selfish and untrustworthy.
Kovalchuk’s return to the KHL could certainly inspire promising young Russian and European players to stay home rather than jump to the NHL It’s important to remember, however, big-name Russian stars like Malkin, Alexander Ovechkin, Pavel Datsyuk and Sergei Bobrovsky chose to stay in the NHL because the level of competition and long-term financial security is better. Those players will be as inspiring to their countrymen as players like Kovalchuk who choose to play in the KHL.
NBC SPORTS PRO HOCKEY TALK: Ryan Dadoun looks at five players slated to become UFAs next summer who could be poised to cash in big with their current clubs. Topping the list is NY Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist, followed by Toronto Maple Leafs winger Phil Kessel.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’ll be very surprised if Lundqvist and Kessel become UFAs next summer.
ARIZONA REPUBLIC: The Goldwater Institute said it won’t try to block the new lease agreement between the team’s prospective buyers and the City of Glendale.
STARTRIBUNE.COM: Multiple sources report the Minnesota Wild will sign former Nashville Predators defenseman Jonathan Blum.
CSNCHICAGO.COM: A new contract between the Blackhawks and forward Marcus Kruger could be looming.
THE BUFFALO NEWS: The Sabres have high hopes 2012 first round pick Mikhail Grigorenko will have a better performance in his sophomore season than in his rookie campaign last season.
NHL.COM: The Carolina Hurricanes signed forward Aaron Palushaj to a one-year, two-way NHL contract worth $600K at the NHL level.