Thursday, January 21, 2010

Where will Kovalchuk end up? The pros and cons

The Leafs got a firsthand look at pending UFA Ilya Kovalchuk on Tuesday night. And, like just about everyone else who's ever watched the guy, they had to have come away impressed.

Kovalchuk is shaping up to the big story of the season, as all indications are that he'll be moved at the trade deadline. Reports say that the Russian superstar is demanding a ten-year deal worth over $100 million. Countless rumors have linked him with various teams, either a rental or as a long-term destination.

Where will he wind up? And more importantly, what would be the best fit? It's a tough call, but I want to help figure it out.

Here are ten teams that have been linked to Kovalchuk recently, along with the pros and cons of each.

Washington Capitals
Many speculate that the Caps have the right parts to make a deal work, putting Kovalchuk and Alexander Ovechkin on the same line.

Pro: Would have plenty of down time during the post-season, since all four of the team's playoff series would be over in four games.
Con: Would run the risk of shoulder injuries due to raising arms in celebration of a goal after every single shift.

Montreal Canadiens
Bob Gainey may be looking to shake things up prior to his April firing.

Pro: What highly skilled offensive dynamo wouldn't jump at a chance to play for Jacques Martin?
Con: The team wouldn't actually have room on the roster to add him unless they cut somebody like Georges Laraque, which given recent world events they would of course never do.

Vancouver Canucks
Bring in a European star as a mid-season rental? That's practically guaranteed to work!

Pro: City is home to the upcoming Winter Olympics, meaning Kovalchuk wouldn't have to bother with the hassle and expense of arranging for shipping of his silver medal.
Con: He could have trouble fitting into the dressing room. Literally. Wellwood's off his diet.

Buffalo Sabres
Could the first-place Sabres be looking to make a big splash with a post-season rental?

Pro: Once the summer arrived, he could engage in the most popular activity among Buffalo residents: getting the hell out of the city and never returning.
Con: His arrival would likely be lost amid the overwhelming city-wide euphoria that's accompanied the hiring of Chan Gailey.

Los Angeles Kings
The Kings are young, talented, and may be on the hunt for a franchise player.

Pro: After ten years in Atlanta, it might be a nice break to move to a city where there's not as much interest in hockey.
Con: As the most talented and charismatic King since Wayne Gretzky, would run risk of being pressured into making a really terrible SNL hosting appearance.

Toronto Maple Leafs
Eklund says Burkie's definitely going to land him. Despite that fact, it's still technically possible that he could.

Pro: Certainly wouldn't have to worry about having his thunder stolen by some hotshot young draft pick.
Con: Rumored demands for a ten-year deal may not allow sufficient time for the team to return to the playoffs.

Calgary Flames
Fun fact: 50% of Alberta-based teams are capable of trading for star players.

Pro: Flashy Russians who don't backcheck just scream "Sutter guy".
Con: No way to tell in advance whether this is the particular year this decade when the Flames will go past the first round.

Boston Bruins
The team is a legitimate Cup contender, yet also has a lottery draft pick to trade. Wait, that can't be right.

Pro: Would be well-positioned to follow the traditional path to glory of a Boston star: produce a decade of unrivaled excellence, develop into a respected veteran leader, become a pillar of the local community, and finally demand a trade to a better team that has an actual chance at winning the Cup.
Con: Probably wouldn't have any chemistry with Marc Savard.

New York Islanders
Larry Brooks of the NY Post swears they're in the mix.

Pro: Kovalchuk could make an excellent mentor for John Tavares, helping him through the pressure of being a #1 overall pick on a team that won't win a playoff game for the next decade.
Con: Signing an enigmatic Russian superstar to a ten-year deal makes the front office all nervous for some reason.

Atlanta Thrashers
Don't forget, Kovalchuk could always decide to resign in Atlanta.

Pro: Would avoid the hassle of selling his house.
Con: Absolutely everything else.


  1. After all this Haiti crap, it's nice to see you shake things up with a brilliant, funny post. I was beginning to worry that your sense of humour had crumbled. Or that you'd make a Mike Richter joke.

  2. Vancouver won't go after him since he hasn't sat out for half the season.

  3. Well, Laraque is gone, so maybe there is hope.

  4. Bring in a European star as a mid-season rental? That's practically guaranteed to work!

    Sundin wasn't a rental. Rentals are traded for.

  5. Montreal: Bob Gainey's Hamburgler sign tells him Kovy's too tall to be let into the ballpit.

  6. Awesome as usual

    Though you should've made a few comments about Kovalchuk not meeting Gainey's height requirements

  7. I'd really, really love to se Kovy as a Maple Leaf. Might not be enough cap space left to buy enough pucks for him and Kessel, though. Until Kovalchuk starts having recurring knee- and hip injuries after 3 months into his first season as a Leaf, of course.

    See, it's a win-win situation!

  8. Silver Medal? Who wins the gold then? Sweden? Finland? Czech Republic?

    Canada and USA sure won't be on the medal stand in Vancouver...

  9. Canada and USA sure won't be on the medal stand in Vancouver...

    You know, I actually thought Canada had an excellent mix of talent, defensive conscience and goaltending. But Random Anonymous Guy, your completely unsupported assertion TOTALLY made me see the error of my ways.

    Thanks so much!

  10. Thanks for the backhanded slap to the Isles organization. I can guarantee you the Isles win a playoff game before the Leafs do.

    Now if you want a real idea of whether Kovalchuk ends up with the Isles, the simple as is ABSOLUTELY NOT. Isles have a great thing going, they have young talent that is only going to get better and plenty more talent developing in their system.

    Garth Snow has been very shrewd and is adamant about sticking to this rebuild. So unlike your uninformed answer that really was just a cheap shot of the Isles, I decided to put forth something of real substance.

  11. It should be noted for every meatball in a certain large Midwestern city that Kovalchuk was not mentioned as possibly going to any NHL team that might be in the same city as the Thrashers' AHL affiliate.

    So, seriously, knock that shit off.

  12. thank you for NOT falling into the easy, height-related jokes RE: the habs.

    the laraque one was much, much funnier.

  13. I know your post was in jest but I just thought I'd say I don't think the Caps would sign Kovalchuk or at least I don't think it'd be a smart move unless they could get an awesome deal somehow like 5-6 million cap hit for 10 years or something like that. I don't think that is likely to happen, and since they already have the highest goal scoring team in the NHL (I think) they don't really need more offense, though it obviously couldn't hurt- and two amazing forwards are better than one but I think they have a great team now and though I don't know the Caps cap situation I imagine signing someone like Kovalchuk wouldn't leave a whole lot of room.

  14. @RicketyRuckus...

    Everything I've seen linking Kovalchuk to the Caps has it as a pure rental -- a one-shot deal to win a Cup this year before he goes UFA in the summer.

  15. hahahaha wouldnt have chemistry with savard...hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm