Ilya Kovalchuk is rumored to be on the trade block plus the latest on Jesse Puljujarvi and the Sabres in today’s NHL rumor mill.
KOVALCHUK ON THE OUTS WITH THE KINGS?
LOS ANGELES TIMES: Jack Harris cites Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reporting that the Kings will keep Ilya Kovalchuk out of the lineup for the foreseeable future. Harris also mentioned The Fourth Period’s Dave Pagnotta claiming the club was exploring trade options for the 36-year-old winger. He carries a no-movement clause this season and a $6.25-million annual average value. Another report linked Kovalchuk with a possible return to the KHL.
General manager Rob Blake declined to comment about Kovalchuk’s future with the club. He claimed the winger hasn’t made a trade request and also pointed out he has a no-movement clause. Blake left open the possibility Kovalchuk could return to the lineup in the club’s next game on Thursday.
A reminder as reported before that Kovalchuk’s final signing bonus money is payable Dec. 15 after which he’s only collecting on his $700k salary for the rest of the season. He does, however, have a $4.25 M salary on the books for next season… if he’s still in the NHL https://t.co/DGEia1juWX
— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) November 12, 2019
Would love to have heard the conversation between Rob Blake and his bosses about this. Blake gave him too much money and too much term. https://t.co/d65jP9Qfgd
— Helene Elliott (@helenenothelen) November 12, 2019
SPECTOR’S NOTE: If Kovalchuk is unwilling to waive his no-movement clause there’s nothing Blake can do other than to park him in the press box and hope he changes his mind. Maybe a move to a deeper club might spark his offense, but I doubt it. He’s 36 and no longer an explosive offensive talent.
Blake paid Kovalchuk too much for too long and further handcuffed himself with that no-movement clause. If the winger agrees to waive that clause, his cap hit could prove a sticking point unless Blake picks up part of it. If the Kings GM can’t find any takers, he could buy out that final season next June. However, Kovalchuk’s on a 35-plus contract, meaning the cap hit will still count for 2020-21.
UPDATE ON PULJUJARVI
TSN: During the latest “Insider Trading” segment, Darren Dreger said he believes Edmonton Oilers GM Ken Holland is fine with Jesse Puljujarvi playing the remainder of this season in Finland. He also said some NHL teams continue to inquire about the 21-year-old winger. They will continue to investigate and scout the restricted free agent. Dreger claims one team would like Puljujarvi to return to the NHL to evaluate him on the smaller ice surface.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: If Puljujarvi isn’t signed by Dec. 1 he’ll be ineligible to play the remainder of this NHL season. The Oilers could trade him to a club willing to sign him before that deadline. Unless Holland gets a tempting offer, however, I think he’s content to wait until next summer.
SABRES SEEKING A FORWARD?
TSN: In the same segment, Pierre LeBrun believes the Buffalo Sabres could work the phones for a top-nine forward after Vladimir Sobotka was injured during last week’s Global Series against the Tampa Bay Lightning. He has no idea if the Sabres are interested in Puljujarvi.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: For weeks there’s been some talk of the Sabres perhaps shopping a defenseman to bring in a right-side winger. Sobotka’s injury could step up their efforts if he’s out long-term as LeBrun believes. With the Sabres slumping after a hot start to the season, this situation could be worth watching.