NHL Rumor Mill – March 23, 2019
Updates on Ilya Kovalchuk and Duncan Keith plus the latest on the Canucks in today’s NHL rumor mill.
KOVALCHUK WANTS TO REMAIN A KING
LOS ANGELES TIMES: Curtis Zupke reports Kings left wing Ilya Kovalchuk feels he didn’t have a chance after Willie Desjardins took over last November as head coach. Kovalchuk began the season on the top line but he’s gradually seen his ice time reduced. He’s fallen down their depth chart and was a healthy scratch in two recent games.
Kovalchuk has two more years remaining on his contract with an annual average value of $6.25 million. He dismissed the notion that he might prefer a change of scenery, pointing out his family is now established in Los Angeles. He’s determined to see his way through this.
For his part, Desjardins acknowledged the difficulty Kovalchuk feels. He said he respects the winger and his love for the game, but the club is currently at a point where they need to look at some younger players.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kovalchuk is also aware that Desjardins is an interim coach. I daresay he’s looking forward to playing under a new bench boss next season. He’s got a full no-movement clause for next season and obviously doesn’t have any intention of waiving it.
KEITH WANTS TO BE PART OF BLACKHAWKS FUTURE
THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Pierre LeBrun recently reported the midseason upturn in the Chicago Blackhawks fortunes has long-time Hawks defenseman Duncan Keith keen to remain part of the club’s future. It’s expected general manager Stan Bowman will meet in the offseason with Keith and the club’s other “legacy players” to discuss their roles within the club’s plans.
Keith has spent his entire NHL career with the Blackhawks and carries a full no-movement clause in his contract. While he knows the roster has to be better, he also pointed out their improvement since late-January and how they’re still in the playoff chase.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Before the Blackhawks turned things around in late-January there was growing speculation Keith and Brent Seabrook (another legacy player, along with Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, and Corey Crawford) might be asked to waive their movement clauses. It’s possible Bowman could approach Keith about moving on this summer but the Hawks GM probably intends to use his veterans to complement the younger talent being brought into the lineup. Keith won’t be going anywhere this summer.
LATEST ON THE CANUCKS
SPORTSNET: Earlier this week, Elliotte Friedman reported there have been no contract extension talks yet between the Vancouver Canucks and goaltender Jacob Markstrom. He has one year remaining with a salary-cap hit of $3.6 million. With Edmonton Oilers goalie Mikko Koskinen earning $4.5 million annually, Friedman wondered how much Markstrom could make. The two sides can’t officially sign a new deal until July 1 but they can talk.
Friedman also believes the Canucks will be in the market for a young defenseman in his early- to mid-twenties.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I daresay the Canucks and Markstrom will wait until their season is over before opening those contract discussions. As for a possible trade target in that early- to mid-twenties range, would Benning have interest in the Ottawa Senators’ Cody Ceci? He’s a restricted free agent with arbitration rights this summer who might not fit into that rebuilding club’s plans.