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Kovalchuk conundrum continues

Ilya Kovalchuk's contract situation remains in limbo. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

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Ilya Kovalchuk's contract situation remains in limbo. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

As the speculation over Ilya Kovalchuk’s future drags on - due to the mutual decision by the NHL and NHL Players’ Association to extend the deadline regarding his latest contract proposal from the New Jersey Devils to Sept. 3 - there’s also been talk over which players the Devils will move to get under the cap should the league agree to register the deal.

New York Post columnist Mark Everson believes the trade candidates are defenseman Bryce Salvador (who’ll earn $2.9 million next season) and center Dainius Zubrus (who has two more years at $3.4 million per remaining on his contract), in part because they lack clauses that would hamper a trade.

Everson has also heard talk of the Devils shopping center Travis Zajac.

Another name that popped up was Devils captain Jamie Langenbrunner, who will be eligible for unrestricted free agency next July. However, he has a no-trade clause and any issues he may have had with the coaching staff last season were rectified when John MacLean took over from Jacques Lemaire this summer.

Don’t expect Zajac or Langenbrunner to be dealt by GM Lou Lamoriello. If push comes to shove, Lamoriello will do what he did five years ago when he faced a similar situation and simply bury salary in the minors. Zubrus is a demotion candidate as his contract makes him tough to trade.


ESPN.com’s James Murphy recently reported a source claiming the Boston Bruins were still “actively shopping” center Marc Savard, but efforts were hampered by a combination of interested teams lacking salary cap space, plus the NHL’s ongoing investigation into Savard’s heavily front-loaded contract.

Another factor that makes trading Savard difficult is his no-trade clause, which apparently he’ll only waive for the Toronto Maple Leafs or Ottawa Senators, who reportedly have no interest in him.

The Bruins currently sit in excess of $3 million above the $59.4 million salary cap for 2010-11, but with left winger Marco Sturm set to be on long-term injury reserve into November, there’s no need to make a trade at this time.

Douglas Flynn of NESN.com raised a good point when he noted Boston GM Peter Chiarelli’s unwillingness to crush the speculation once and for all is merely adding fuel to the fire.


San Jose Sharks star center Joe Thornton is eligible for unrestricted free agency next summer, but if he has his way he’ll be off the market long before then.

Thornton and his family are happy living in the San Jose area and he’s been in preliminary contract talks with Sharks management, sounding confident a deal will be reached.

It remains to be seen if a contract will be in place prior to the start of this season. After that, both sides would have to wait until Jan. 1 to reopen talks. It’s too early to tell how this will work out, but odds are Thornton won’t be available in next summer’s UFA market.

Rumor Roundup appears Mondays and Thursdays only on thehockeynews.com. Lyle Richardson has been an NHL commentator since 1998 on his website, spectorshockey.net, and is a contributing writer for Foxsports.com and Eishockey Magazine.

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