The latest rumors around Ilya Kovalchuk involve the prospect-heavy Los Angeles Kings. (Photo by Scott Audette/NHLI via Getty Images)
The Ilya Kovalchuk rumor mill continues to spit out possible destinations for the superstar should the Atlanta Thrashers decide to shop him by the trade deadline on March 3.
According to THN’s Ken Campbell, multiple sources claimed the Los Angeles Kings held talks with the Thrashers, but Kings GM Dean Lombardi was balking at the asking price, rumored to be Jack Johnson and/or Oscar Moller or Wayne Simmonds and a passel of prospects headed by Brayden Schenn, the Kings’ 2009 first round draft pick.
That’s a steep price to pay, especially if Kovalchuk intends to test the UFA market in July. If Lombardi can’t get permission to speak with the Kovalchuk camp he might look elsewhere for a more affordable option.
Other teams linked to Kovalchuk are the Boston Bruins and Calgary Flames, but a recent report in The Boston Globe suggested the Bruins aren’t willing to meet the expensive asking price for the left winger, while Flames GM Darryl Sutter recently told the Calgary Sun he couldn’t foresee any scenario where they’d obtain Kovalchuk.
Forget about the Toronto Maple Leafs getting into the bidding as Leafs GM Brian Burke recently told Rogers Sportsnet he couldn’t afford the return or Kovalchuk’s rumored salary demands.
It’s been suggested the Washington Capitals might make a pitch for Kovalchuk, mostly based on the premise he’d be a great fit with Russian countrymen Alex Ovechkin and Alexander Semin, but the Capitals – one of the highest-scoring teams in the league – don’t need the offense.
The same goes for the Chicago Blackhawks, whose management could seek to bolster its blueline depth.
• Speaking of the Blackhawks, GM Stan Bowman shot down speculation he’s seeking another goaltender, expressing his support for the tandem of Cristobal Huet and Antti Niemi to the Chicago Tribune, pointing out they were amongst the league-leaders in combined goals-against average.
Bowman remains coy about potential trade deadline moves and with forwards Adam Burish and Dave Bolland soon to return to the lineup, the GM suggested they could be considered as acquisitions.
• Sheldon Souray’s days as an Edmonton Oiler might be coming to an end. Earlier this week he gave Oilers management a list of preferred trade destinations.
It’s believed Souray wants to be dealt to a Western Conference team so he can be close to his children, who reside in the Los Angeles area.
However, agreeing to waive his clause doesn’t necessarily mean a Souray trade is coming. His contract comes with a $5.4 million cap hit for two more seasons and could be the biggest stumbling block.
If the right deadline deal comes along the Oilers will pull the trigger, but it might be more advantageous to wait until July 1, when Souray no longer has a movement clause. This would allow the Oilers to ship him anywhere without the defenseman’s consent.
Edmonton might also find it easier to move his contract in the summer when teams have more available cap space.
• Don’t expect the surprising Colorado Avalanche to get into the bidding for Kovalchuk or any other expensive playoff rentals.
The Denver Post suggested any deadline moves by the Avs would be to clear out some veterans like Marek Svatos and Ruslan Salei, who’ve lost playing time to younger players.
Given how well the Avalanche are playing this season it wouldn’t make sense to shake things up by adding a big name player. Expect only slight adjustments – if any – by management if injuries become a factor between now and March 3.
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.