What’s Next for Kovalchuk?

New Jersey Devils player Ilya Kovalchuk smiles during a news conference announcing the signing of his long-term contract with the team in Newark, New Jersey in this July 20, 2010 file photo. The NHL has rejected the Russian winger

As we all know by now (how could we have missed it?), the Kovalchuk contract has been rejected. Kovalchuk is officially NOT a New Jersey Devil. At least not yet. So what happens now? There are a few factors that come in to play in determining the next possible step in this glorious (and tragic) soap opera that we are all watching so very eagerly. (Who would have thought the Kovalchuk mess would trump the Lebron James circus ten fold?)

  1. Can the Devils even afford Kovalchuk now? Obviously if they’re going to try to give him the $100 million contract that he seemed (seems?) to insist on, they’re going to have an even bigger cap issue than they already had. This is all not to mention the fact that Mark Everson at the New York Post is reporting that the NHL may yet fine the Devils for this silly contract offer. According to Everson “A league sourse said the NHL is not threatening, but also not dismissing the possibility that the Devils might be liable for a fine of at least $1 million.” – That fine could be as much as $5 million, and may severly impact their ability to resign Kovalchuk.
  2. Who else is in the running? If Kovalchuk isn’t going to get $100 million in the NHL, he may look to sign a 1-year contract somewhere for a more reasonable cap figure, and then try his luck again next year (yay, something to look forward to!?). That might mean that he’s looking at the Devils, but it may also open the door to quite a few other teams looking for short-term help. The Kings are one of those teams, and despite protests to the contrary, it would be silly to assume they’re out of the running.
  3. Is the KHL calling? Ok, so it’s a bit of a rhetorical question. Of course they’re calling. They’ve been calling for a while now. The question is, would Kovalchuk answer the phone? This recent rejection of his contract certainly makes it entirely possible that he grabs the quick cash for a year and then re-enters the free agency pool next summer. Certainly the KHL would consider it a coup to grab one of the most talented pure scorers in the world, even if it’s on a relatively temporary basis.

I think Kovalchuk will still end up in New Jersey, albeit on a more reasonable contract. In fact, I’m leaning towards thinking he’ll end up with a one-year deal with the Devils, and we’ll all have to go through this again. Damnit.

So what do you think? Any chance the Kings re-enter the Kovy sweepstakes? Think he’ll head to Russia?

Tags: Ilya Kovalchuk KHL Los Angeles Kings Mark Everson New Jersey Devils