NHL Rumor Mill – December 18, 2019
Could Ilya Kovalchuk end up with another NHL team? With Taylor Hall off the trade block, which winger could be targeted by playoff contenders? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.
WILL KOVALCHUK FIND A NEW NHL HOME?
TSN: Bob McKenzie reports Ilya Kovalchuk’s agent will try to find a new NHL home for his client after his contract was terminated yesterday by the Los Angeles Kings. J.P. Barry will try to find a short-term deal worth close to the league’s minimum salary of $700K. Because Kovalchuk’s previous contract was 35-plus, the Kings are stuck with his annual salary-cap hit of $6.25 million. As his contract was mutually terminated, the Kings cannot trade it to another club.
Darren Dreger tweeted, “Some teams have already inquired and it’s believed there are a few good options and at least one NHL team keenly interested. Kovalchuk wants to get back playing ASAP.”
SPORTING NEWS: Tommy McArdle cites Russian sports journalist Igor Erenko claiming the Boston Bruins could be interested in signing Kovalchuk. The Bruins have limited salary-cap space ($1.7 million) and are seeking a winger for second-line center David Krejci.
NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: Brian Witt considers it unlikely Kovalchuk will land with the San Jose Sharks. The veteran winger wants to sign with a contender, but the Sharks are sitting outside the Western Conference playoff picture. They also recently fired head coach Peter DeBoer, who had a good relationship with Kovalchuk during their tenure with the New Jersey Devils. Given the direction of the Sharks’ season, Witt feels they’re better off giving playing time to younger, cheaper players.
THE HOCKEY NEWS: Jared Clinton speculates the Kings could have more moves in store after cutting ties with Kovalchuk. “Tyler Toffoli, Trevor Lewis, and Kyle Clifford will all become trade fodder as the deadline approaches, as will Hutton and fellow defensemen Alec Martinez and Derek Forbort,” writes Clinton.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Nobody was interested in a fading Kovalchuk when he was carrying a hefty salary-cap hit through 2020-21. For a prorated $700K on a one-year deal, however, someone could take that affordable gamble. The Bruins had an interest in Kovalchuk before he signed with the Kings in 2018. They could take a chance on him if they’re reluctant to part with assets near the trade deadline for someone like Kings winger Tyler Toffoli.
WITH HALL OFF THE MARKET, FOCUS COULD SHIFT TO KREIDER
TSN: With Taylor Hall traded to Arizona on Monday, Darren Dreger believes interest will shift toward New York Rangers winger Chris Kreider. Like Hall, the 28-year-old Kreider is eligible for unrestricted free agent status in July.
Given the fact the Coyotes jumped early to get Hall, Dreger speculates another club might try to do the same with the Rangers winger. He expects the asking price could be a first-round pick and a mid-level prospect.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: If a rival club pursues Kreider, it’ll be interesting to see if he’s willing to consider a contract extension. That could improve his trade value for the Rangers. They’re still within striking distance of a playoff berth. Unless he gets a significant offer, Rangers GM Jeff Gorton could remain patient and see how things transpire leading up to the Feb. 24 trade deadline.