Updates on Ben Bishop and Ilya Kovalchuk – May 2, 2017
Some team are interested in acquiring goalie Ben Bishop’s rights, plus a look at the next step for the New Jersey Devils and Ilya Kovalchuk in your NHL rumor mill.
NBC SPORTS: Mike Halford cites TSN’s Pierre LeBrun reporting “a couple of teams” have contacted the Los Angeles Kings expressing interest in acquiring the rights of pending unrestricted free agent goaltender Ben Bishop. This report comes days after the Carolina Hurricanes acquired the rights of UFA goalie Scott Darling from the Chicago Blackhawks.
FANRAG SPORTS NETWORK: Chris Nichols cites LeBrun’s appearance on Edmonton’s TSN 1260 yesterday to elaborate on his report. While he doesn’t know which teams contacted the Kings about Bishop, he speculates the Calgary Flames and Dallas Stars would make sense. LeBrun pointed out the Flames had worked on a trade to acquire Bishop last June from the Tampa Bay Lightning before swinging a deal with the St. Louis Blues for Brian Elliott.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Whichever team acquires Bishop would have exclusive negotiating rights with him until July 1, though there is a brief period leading up to that date when the goalie can speak to other clubs. There’s no guarantee they can re-sign them but it certainly gives them an advantage.
It would be easier for the Flames to sign Bishop than it would for the Stars. It’s not expected they’ll re-sign Elliott plus backup Chad Johnson is also eligible for UFA status, though it’s possible he could be re-signed. The Stars, meanwhile, still have Kari Lehtonen and Antti Niemi under contract through next season and both carry no-trade clauses. They’ll have to move one of them via trade or contract buyout to make room for Bishop, who could prove an expensive re-signing.
NJ.COM: Chris Ryan reports New Jersey Devils general manager Ray Shero recently said he’d reach out to Ilya Kovalchuk’s agent Jay Grossman this week to determine if there’s any substance to recent reports claiming the former Devil is interested in returning to the NHL. Kovalchuk, 34, retired following the 2012-13 season and spent the past four seasons playing for KHL team SKA St. Petersburg. The Devils own Kovalchuk’s NHL rights until age 35, but the earliest they could sign him is July 1.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: There are conflicting reports regarding Kovalchuk’s willing to play for the Devils. It’s been reported he doesn’t want to return to New Jersey, but KHL insider Aivis Kalnins claims that’s not true. There’s apparently no issue with Kovalchuk re-joining the Devils, but if he wants to sign with another club it requires unanimous approvals from all 31 NHL teams. That’s what prompted talk of a “sign-and-trade” move by the Devils.