Ilya Kovalchuk scored 41 goals and 85 points in 76 games for the Thrashers and Devils this season. (Getty Images)
It’s anyone’s guess where New Jersey Devils left winger Ilya Kovalchuk will end up playing next season.
ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun reported Kovalchuk’s agent, Jay Grossman, declined to comment on reports out of Russia claiming a Kontinental League team had made a significant contract offer for his client, saying discussions with the Devils continue.
LeBrun wrote if Kovalchuk opts to test the UFA market and doesn’t receive lowball offers, he’ll likely remain in the NHL, suggesting the Los Angeles Kings as a likely destination.
LA Kings Insider Rich Hammond believed there might be some interest on the part of Kings GM Dean Lombardi, but noted there were several factors which could affect this, including Lombardi’s unwillingness to get into a bidding war for Kovalchuk’s services plus how it would impact the Kings’ efforts to re-sign blueline star Drew Doughty.
A wild rumor recently making the rounds on the Internet had Devils GM Lou Lamoriello shopping goaltender Martin Brodeur to Washington for Capitals winger Alexander Semin as a means of enticing Kovalchuk to re-sign with the Devils.
Lamoriello shot down that crazy talk, saying he’s never thought of trading Brodeur and never will.
Don’t expect the Toronto Maple Leafs to pursue Kovalchuk, as GM Brian Burke told LeBrun he won’t be bidding for the Russian superstar should he hit the market. Burke will instead try to add more scoring depth by shopping blueliner Tomas Kaberle.
LEAFS LISTENING TO KABERLE OFFERS
Speaking of Kaberle and the Leafs, the Toronto Sun reported Burke admitted he is continuing to get offers for the blueliner, but denied he’s had direct talks with the New Jersey Devils.
Burke also mentioned there’s still time to reach a deal with restricted free agent winger Nikolai Kulemin, despite the fact talks have been stalled for several weeks.
Kaberle might not be headed to New Jersey, but it’s anticipated he’ll be moved somewhere at the draft.
PANTHERS KEEPING VOKOUN?
A change of management for the Florida Panthers has meant a significant change in the trade status of goaltender Tomas Vokoun.
Under former GM Randy Sexton it was believed Vokoun would be a trade candidate, but new GM Dale Tallon recently told the goaltender it’s not in his plans to move him.
Tallon didn’t completely rule out a trade, but it’s believed he would like to keep Vokoun around for another season, possibly to make it easier on the young goaltenders moving up in the system.
One Panther who could be on the move is center Nathan Horton, whose agent recently said there’s a good chance Horton will be moved by draft weekend.
The report claimed the Buffalo Sabres had serious interest, suggesting they might part with either Tim Connolly or Derek Roy.
Horton was once considered a future captain for the Panthers, but his stock has declined in recent years. The same can be said of Connolly and Roy, although it’s believed the Sabres would prefer to move Connolly and his $4.5 million salary for next season.
CANADIENS NEGOTIATE WITH PLEKANEC
Agent Rick Curran, who represents Montreal Canadiens center Tomas Plekanec, recently told ESPN.com he’s had “a couple of discussions” with Habs GM Pierre Gauthier regarding a new contract for his client, calling the talks “very productive.”
Not everyone is convinced Gauthier will pay out what’s believed to be a $5 million per season asking price for Plekanec. The Montreal Gazette’s Mike Boone doubts Gauthier will meet that price, meaning Plekanec will likely be a goner via free agency on July 1.
It’s a difficult situation for Gauthier. On the one hand, he must be careful not to overpay for Plekanec, who on a deeper team would be a second line center. On the other, if Gauthier loses the pivot to free agency he’ll have to scramble to find a suitable replacement.
SPEZZA NOT LEAVING SENATORS
Forget about that rumor flying around the Internet suggesting the Ottawa Senators would trade Jason Spezza to the Boston Bruins in exchange for the second overall pick in the 2010 draft.
Fluto Shinzawa of the Boston Globe dismissed the speculation as “outlandish,” pointing out the cap-strapped Bruins cannot afford Spezza’s $7 million annual salary, plus their depth in talent at center is already full with Patrice Bergeron, Marc Savard and David Krejci.
Shinzawa also noted that Taylor Hall or Tyler Seguin, either of whom the Bruins could pick with that selection, would be considerably more affordable pickups with entry-level base salaries of $900,000 per season.
FLYERS LOOKING FOR A GOALTENDER
Speculation continues over potential moves the Philadelphia Flyers can make to address their goaltending depth next season.
It’s been rumored the Flyers have interest in Montreal Canadiens goalie Carey Price, but the Philadelphia Inquirer reported sources that claimed the asking price would be right winger Claude Giroux, whom the Flyers are unwilling to part with.
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.