NHL Rumor Mill – November 14, 2019
The latest on Ilya Kovalchuk and more in today’s NHL rumor mill.
UPDATE ON KOVALCHUK
THE HOCKEY NEWS: cited a source close to the situation claiming Ilya Kovalchuk will be granted his outright release from his contract by the Los Angeles Kings with more details to follow. A Kings’ spokesman had no comment. Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman recently reported Kovalchuk would be a healthy scratch for the foreseeable future.
Kovalchuk is in the second year of a three-year, $18.75-million contract. Termination of the deal won’t provide the Kings any salary-cap relief because it’s a 35-plus contract. He’ll be free to return to the KHL or to sign with another NHL club as an unrestricted free agent.
SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman said there was a meeting with the winger on Tuesday. He was informed he was being removed from the lineup. Several options were discussed, including contract termination. Friedman doubts Kovalchuk would walk away from the money unless it’s coming from elsewhere.
Other options include “working on a trade; leaving the team; staying until his bonus is paid in December, then leaving.” Friedman also said there was some pushback that he shouldn’t be forced to leave if he doesn’t want to go.
TSN: Pierre LeBrun reported the Kings and Kovalchuk haven’t made any firm decisions yet. LeBrun suggests the best trade opportunity would be after his Dec. 15 bonus is paid but he wondered if there’s a market for the 36-year-old winger. He considers it a fluid situation right now.
As others have shared, the Kovalchuk situation is complex and fluid with many layers. They have tried to trade him- and some teams did kick the tires last year. Unsure of market this year. But part of the team’s plan going forward is to separate themselves from heavier contracts.
— Jon Rosen (@lakingsinsider) November 13, 2019
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It remains to be seen how this shakes out, but it certainly appears the Kings and Kovalchuk will part company soon. If the Kings terminate his contract, it means there’s no trade market for the aging winger. Maybe a rival club will gamble on him with a cheap one-year deal. However, I don’t see anyone taking on the remainder of his current contract.
HIGHLIGHTS FROM LATEST “31 THOUGHTS”
In his latest “31 Thoughts” column, Friedman also reported a couple of sources claiming Ryan Donato’s name is out there in the trade market. However, he thinks the Minnesota Wild intend to remain patient with the 23-year-old forward.
The Buffalo Sabres have been in the market for a forward for some time. Vladimir Sobotka’s recent injury adds to that desire.
The Toronto Maple Leafs aren’t as concerned over their backup goaltending as others seem to be. Friedman suggested Arizona’s Eric Comrie as an option but there’s no indication the Leafs have look into acquiring him. Minnesota’s Alex Stalock or either Tristan Jarry or Casey DeSmith of the Pittsburgh Penguins would be affordable targets.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Unless call-up Kasimir Kaskisuo can provide the answer to their backup problem, the Leafs could be forced into the trade market at some point to address this issue. Perhaps they’ll look at some of those suggested by Friedman.