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Tuesday, August 17, 2010

19 Teams & Russia Linked To Kovalchuk

We're all sick of the Ilya Kovalchuk thing right? After most of the big name UFAs signed deals on July 1, it's been a non-stop barrage of Kovalchuk information.

I'm surprised we don't know what his favorite color of underwear is at this point with all the news surrounding him.

However, the front-runner leading the pack and fanning the flames is once again Eklund over at

Once you've awoken from either passing out, diabetic shock, seizure or the coma that revelation just put you in, grab a glass of water, hug your loved ones who have no doubt come to your aid and re-focus on the task at hand here.

For whatever reason, this afternoon I began thinking about Kovalchuk. Then, I stated thinking about how every team in the league is surely interested, but there's only a few that logically would make sense either from the Salary Cap standpoint or personnel standpoint.

In all, Eklund has linked 19 teams plus Russia as being Kovalchuk's landing place since July 1. (Yes, I went back and counted. I also provided the links to all the mentions of the teams below. Did I miss one or even 11? Certainly possible given these gaudy numbers already.)

So let's go through this shall we?

Everyone already knows the Los Angeles Kings and New Jersey Devils are in on it. The Devils even signed him to an illegal contract.

Moving on.

Pittsburgh Penguins

My personal favorite was Kovalchuk being linked to the Penguins. After I avoided a stroke while contemplating the many ways this may be the worst "rumor" in the history of the Internet, I narrowed it down to one main reason.

The Pens have about $2 million in cap space right now. Based on the Devils' logic/rejected contract the Pens would have to sign him to a 51-year, $102 million dollar contract so his cap hit is a meager $2 million per year. Front-end load it all you want, doesn't matter. He could very well be dead in 51 years.

The point is that the Penguins most likely never went beyond the stage of "hey wouldn't it be cool to have him?" phase behind closed doors while eating Qdoba burritos.

New York Islanders

Next, the Isles.

(Bet this was taken on July 1 as the offers poured in.)

Makes sense given that they're trying to get up to the salary cap floor, need a new arena worse than the Pens did, have stock-piled high draft picks for the last few I need to go on?

Problem is, Kovalchuk spent his time mired in a young team in constant rebuilding in Atlanta and turned down $101 million from them.

New York Rangers

While we're in the N.Y. area, let's take a stroll down Broadway with the Rangers. How this is even remotely a possibility is beyond me unless they start shaving cap space hardcore.

This pretty well sums it up from a big Rangers fan:

Me: When was the last time Glen Sather made a good trade or signing excluding Frolov?

Gopher: Never....I'd say his last good move was trading Tyutin and Backman for Zherdev and Fritsche, however he didn't resign Zherdev.

He didn't resign Marek Malik, does that count? I'm gonna go with drafting and holding onto [Lundqvist] as his triumph and not trading him away with 13 draft picks for someone old and pointless like a Chris Chelios.

Can always rely on Gopher for insight.

Toronto Maple Leafs

The Maple Leafs are another team that this wasn't ever going to happen with. Brian Burke is working on retooling this team and held true to form by not trading Tomas Kaberle when he had the chance without needing consent.

(Isn't impressed)

According to CapGeek, they only have $2 million and change in cap space too. See Pittsburgh for similar response.

Philadelphia Flyers

See Toronto. No way, no how was Kovalchuk going to Philadelphia. They had to dump Simon Gagne in order to clear cap space. They've lost Gagne and added Matt Walker, Sean O'Donnell, Nik Zherdev and Andrei Meszaros. Plus, they may still address a question mark in goal yet. But sure, Kovalchuk was going there...

Detroit Red Wings

If this was ever even on the table and he didn't sign in Detroit, I will have less respect for him. Marian Hossa turned down the cash from the Pens to sign with them only to lose to the Pens in the 2009 Finals. (I've never sounded so evil in my laugh than when I saw Hossa's teary-eyed face as the Pens were mobbing Marc-Andre Fleury. Glorious moment in my life.)

The Wings are notorious for having high-powered Russians on their rosters. Even still, there's a big issue with the salary cap in Detroit and this was probably no more than a thought.

St. Louis Blues

Another one that stinks worse than a skunk that's been dead in the road outside your apartment for 4 days baking in the sun.

The Blues have publicly come out and said they're rebuilding from within and they wouldn't be a big player in the UFA market this summer. So, if they signed Kovalchuk, that wouldn't make them a major player?

Ottawa Senators

Here's the biggest reason he wasn't going to Ottawa: cap cap cap cap cap cap cap cap cap cap. Noticing a trend here?

Anaheim Ducks

The Ducks are crunching the numbers to see if they can afford to re-sign Bobby Ryan, which if they don't, would be a huuuuuuuuge mistake. Then, if there's enough space they might reunite Teemu Selanne with Paul Kariya.

Kovalchuk never made sense here.

Washington Capitals

I have to admit, if Kovalchuk took a reduced rate and actually did sign in Washington, if only for one season, watching a line of Backstrom, Ovechkin and Kovalchuk would be downright scary.

(Google images comes through again.)

Again though, no way it happens and the cap is a big reason why.

Dallas Stars

Don't the Stars have a self-imposed salary cap of somewhere around $45 million? So, where exactly did this rumor crop up from?

Atlanta Thrashers

Didn't I just mention that he turned down $101 million from the Thrashers already? Sure, Eklund says he doesn't believe this is happening, but he's "hearing rumors" about it.

San Jose Sharks

For a team with about $700,000 in cap space, I can't imagine this to ever have been anything serious.

For one, if Kovalchuk signed in San Jose, they'd have to most likely shed the amount of cap space they took on with him, so either Joe Thornton is gone or a combination of other guys get dealt for picks and prospects.

Who's going to take on $7 million-ish (just guessing what Kovalchuk's cap hit would probably be) in salary? Not many teams out there with that kind of space, or willing to for that matter.

Calgary Flames

The Flames are too busy re-signing former busts like Olli Jokinen and Alex Tanguay to even be concerned with Kovalchuk being on the market.

Vancouver Canucks

The Canucks are yet another team who couldn't even begin to contemplate this as a reality in a parallel universe, where KFC is good for you and pixie dust is the currency of the world, because of their cap issues.

Colorado Avalanche

Basically Colorado shares the same as the Blues' view on building from within. Though I did hear there was an unreleased track by John Denver that was recently found called "Rocky Mountain Russian."

Maybe that was a look into the future? (Yes, I'm trying to sound as ridiculous as Eklund. Note the key word there is TRYING)

Minnesota Wild

The Wild are too close to the cap to pull this kind of move off unless they find a way to shed some salary. Even with Kovalchuk they're a fringe playoff team, so what's the point?

That money is better spent elsewhere.

Russia & The KHL

Here's what I'm secretly rooting for. I'm hoping that Kovalchuk takes a 1-year deal to go play in Russia so we can have this much fun next summer all over again!

So there you have it, 19 teams in addition to the KHL with only a few that it would even make sense to have made a legit run at Kovalchuk.

It's postings like "I've heard rumblings about Teams X,Y,Z." that lead to false rumors being spread around Twitter and such like wildfire.

In this day and age, it's up to the insiders to be more vigilant than ever and claiming "I give you everything I hear without a filter" is a smokescreen to cover your own tail.

People, including myself, love hearing rumors about our teams and the game we love so much. We look to the credible people out there, who don't post that Selanne and Kariya could be going to Pittsburgh. That duo COULD sign anywhere, but a rhetorical answer to the question does not justify it as a rumor.

All we're asking for is there to be some sense behind what's being posted as a rumor. Weigh each one on a case by case basis. Offer up what positives and negatives it would bring. Give us a thought as to why a deal could work and what might have to be done to make it work. Is that too hard?

I don't think so.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Everyone Spends Their Weekend Talking About Tomas Kaberle For Nothing

(Leafs D-Man Tomas Kaberle auditions for Top Gun)

It was kind of relieving to be able to get away from the eighteen million Ilya Kovalchuk to every professional hockey team on the planet rumors, even just for a few days. However, who would have thought that in such a brief period a time, such a dearth of rumors would spring up. Agreed that most of them were laughable, improbable, and as it turns out, in a move that shocked nobody except for Eklund, Toronto Maple Leafs offensive defenseman Tomas Kaberle remained with the club.

Sure, there were teams like Columbus claiming that Leafs GM Brian Burke was asking for too much in return for his player. I'd say you could lend some credible weight to this theory as Burke himself was quoted as saying “said it all along if we don't get a fit, he stays.” Which could mean that in his opinion, NHL clubs were not meeting his valuation of Kaberle.

There were also the fun rumors of Tampa Bay trading Ryan Malone for Kaberle, but it was very quickly revealed that Malone had a no-trade and was not willing to waive. Another persistent rumor that was repeatedly blasted down was Kaberle moving to Anaheim to become a Duck. Even after numerous credible sources (including Burke himself!) said that Kaberle would not be heading westward, some pseudo-journalists continued to insist that a deal was in the works for that very same move.

I'm pretty sure I also saw a rumor floated out that the Washington Capitals could have made a play for Kaberle. Because EVERYBODY knows having six offensive defenseman gets you deep into the playoffs. If you're wondering how Russia is in late April or early May for future vacationing purposes, I'm sure you could just ask Mr. Ovechkin. A move to the Capitals never made sense when Mike Greene does the exact same thing... although he does play less defense. Much, much less defense.

(See! Even he's not sure what's going on!)

So that counts out Columbus, Tampa Bay, Anaheim and Washington. Oh yes, there was the notion of Kaberle moving to St. Louis, but that was quickly rebuffed by the Blues themselves, who stated they had no intention of trading for a player who could walk for nothing after the season, especially while they plan to build from within the organization. Also, Stars GM Joe Nieuwendyk ruled Dallas out of making a move.

Next there was Los Angeles. Who were going to trade for Kaberle because they don't have Jack Johnson and Drew Doughty on the blue line in all situations. Unless Kaberle can play left wing, I think the Kings were always going to pass on this one.

A straight up swap with Boston between Savard-Kaberle was also bandied about, but the investigations into Savard's contract would be enough to make anybody shy away. I'd also be afraid that Savard would get injured again (which he probably will) and as the Bruins I feel pretty OK about the defense as it is. Chara and Seidenberg seem to like playing together, and Boychuk was a bit of revelation last season.

It was an interesting weekend with a flurry of news and near immediate denial from all parties concerned when a team was brought into play as a trade partner. Burke said he wouldn't move the defenseman unless the price was right, and obviously the price was wrong, bitch! (Ah, Happy Gilmore. Childhood memories...) Kaberle is apparently relieved to be staying with Toronto, being able to put this whole nasty ordeal behind him.

(No idea what this is, but it made me laugh)

With the Weekend of Kaberle finished, we now return you to your regularly scheduled Ilya Kovalchuk Contract Rumorpalooza.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Eklund Changing It Up?

So after a long day of work, he first thing I normally will come home and check out for a good laugh to relieve some stress.

Don't act like you don't do the same thing. Or, if you believe what you read on that site, I hear the mothership is just out of sight beyond the Hale-Bopp Comet and if you continue to drink the Kool-Aid you'll learn the secret meaning of life.

(Greatest picture of the Kool-Aid guy ever. Google images is a fantastic device.)

Speaking of, here's something I was never able to wrap my head around as a kid, or even now.

Who the hell would want to drink his asbestos-laden Kool-Aid after busting through walls? It was clean fresh delicious Kool-Aid before he started wrecking people's property.

I kind of want some Kool-Aid right now, but I'm afraid of saying it out loud for fear of a giant freakish being destroying my Penguins memorabilia on the walls.

OK, that's ridiculous, but what I'm really afraid of is going outside right now. It's about 400 degrees outside with 9000% humidity and I don't feel like melting today.

Anyway, I was a bit shocked to find that there was a post with some logical progression of thought and dare I say, the semblance of what a blog should look like?

He's sourcing credible insiders such as Darren Dreger and E.J. Hradek and then offers up his own prediction of where Tomas Kaberle might land.

No, seriously. It's right here.

Of course it's not without it's usual fair share of rubbish surrounding it.

My biggest issue was seeing him call Anaheim as the front-runner for Kaberle.

That, and him saying that Bobby Ryan might be in play.


After the team has come out several times this offseason and said signing Ryan is a major priority.

Sure, Brian Burke loves the kid. Who doesn't?

Not to mention, the team is being mum on Paul Kariya supposedly wanting to play with Teemu Selanne again.

Ryan is the priority in Anaheim right now, as it should be.

As far as picking where Kaberle will go, I'd be kind of stunned if he's even moved at all.

How many years in a row now have we heard Kaberle's name being mentioned in trade talks?

I hope he doesn't pay much attention to the talk because it would probably drive him nuts being linked to every team in the NHL recently.

Burke isn't in the business of making trades just to make them. The architect has a well-calculated plan and knows what he wants for every single person on his roster.

Burke doesn't settle. He doesn't cave. Other GMs cave in when talking to him.

(As I'm writing this, The Orange County Register beat writer for the Ducks has just spoken with Burke, who told them that the Ducks aren't in on Kaberle. See what some logical thought brings to the table???)

Perhaps this one single post for Eklund is an insight into what we may see from him in the future.

Perhaps all the shots and bad press he's been getting from every message board on his own site, to published blogs and reports from other respected insiders is getting to him.

Though he is still a step ahead of some other people who find it funny to start false rumors just because they know that people will retweet it or re-post it around, it's not by much.

I rather enjoyed an article that Spector found and posted on his Twitter account early Saturday morning.

This one part got a hearty laugh;

"After that, you had to drive traffic to it by making a name out of yourself. And even after that, you still only ended up with a product that the average person would look down on. A case in point goes to HockeyBuzz – it took Eklund a solid year or so to build his website up into something that was remotely relevant, a ton of money, hired writers, and tons of internet marketing. And he still isn’t respected, though he gets his traffic." Read the whole article here.

For me, it's not about the rumor guys being right all the time. To think they will be is an unfair assumption because I would imagine that trade talks are rather fluid from a deal's infancy to completion.

Hell, I spent nine hours earlier this week going back and forth with a friend to try and execute a trade in fantasy baseball that would shake up our rosters and hopefully push us into the playoffs.

That's just fantasy. Imagine doing that with real players and in a professional league.

If something is going to happen, it needs to happen soon with Kaberle.

Burke's got free-reign to send him packing until midnight tomorrow when his NTC kicks back in again.

Time is ticking. Will the sand in the hourglass run out? I suppose we'll know soon.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Kovalchuk Saga Has Grown Tiresome

I know I'm not alone in thinking that the Ilya Kovalchuk saga has grown tiresome and may very well be holding the other 29 teams from re-tooling their rosters.

I will say this though.

These lifetime contracts need to stop.

Yes, his deal got rejected by the league and then he and the Devils saw that rejection upheld by an outside arbitrator. However, these long-term deals are insane.

Ask the New York Islanders how Rick DiPietro's deal is working out. I don't have confirmation, but I'm pretty sure his hospital bills equal his salary.

I understand the logic behind signing a guy for 10, 11, 12+ years. However, what the Devils did with Kovalchuk was absolutely, 100 percent circumvention of the salary cap.

Now, everyone in the union, and some writers out there, are upset about it being rejected.

Sure, the Devils signed him and agreed to pay him $95 million in the first 10 years, but did anyone honestly believe that Kovalchuk was going to play until he was 44?

The problem with this kind of deal is that Kovalchuk can retire whenever and still collect the cash. Not to mention that the Devils wouldn't have his $6 million cap hit to deal with for potentially the final nine years of the contract.

His cap hit would only count up until he turned 35 and then after that, would come off the books should he retire.

I'd be willing to bet that he doesn't last until he's even 37. Meaning, for another seven years, the Devils are off the hook for the cap and only have to pay Kovalchuk peanuts.

I've heard some Devils fans (yes, there are some legit ones out there, though you wouldn't know it from how many show up to the Rock to watch games) that the league rejected it because it's the Devils.

So now there's a league-wide conspiracy against the Devils?

When did this happen?

For the last few years, as a Pens fan, I've heard nothing but cries of "The league wants the Penguins to do well."


"The Pens get all the calls."

"Sidney Crosby is the third referee. Anytime he goes down the refs arm goes up."

"They had too many men on the ice when they scored that goal in the Stanley Cup Finals."


First off, the league rejected the Kovalchuk deal because it was Lou Lamoriello's way of whipping out his 21st digit and chucking up two middle fingers at Gary Bettman.

Just picture that image for a minute. Props to anyone who comes up with a SFW version of that in Photoshop. I'd bet the guys over at The Pens Blog have one on file for occasions such as this.

As far as all the Pens-hater comments go, wait until your team is relevant and we'll be first in line to tell you that your team sucks and the league is pulling strings to make them win.

Also, if the league was really looking to pull strings, wouldn't the Caps and Pens have played in the Eastern Conference Finals sometime in the past 3 years?

Has it happened?


Has Ovechkin even reached the ECF?

HAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAAHAHHAHAHA........sorry....need to keep this professional.

Side note: while playing NHL10 as a goalie in the Lightning's system, the Stars and Caps met in the Stanley Cup Finals.

Dallas prevailed in Game 7 on the road in Washington. (Sounds familiar) So clearly EA Sports also hates Ovechkin as much as Gary Bettman.

Anyway, this saga needs to end.

Respected insiders and rumor guys, (no not the one you're thinking of) believe that once the Kovalchuk signing is official (and legal) that a bunch of other moves will be made.

(As I'm writing this, the band Arcade Fire is performing on the Daily Show. I have never felt better about being a hard rock fan in my life. This song on my television is making me contemplate if jumping off my balcony would hurt less than listening to this crap. Everyone in the band is bouncing around to their own beat and they're all into it like it's moving them to a higher state of consciousness or something. Perhaps it will bring them to a place where they'll realize their music sucks and they should stop pilfering people's money for their CDs. If you like this band, it might explain why you're reading this blog. Thanks for reading! Arcade Fire rocks! Honestly though, this might be the worst band on the face of the planet. Send us your thoughts on the worst band out there and we'll publish a list of them and offer our own insight.)

I wouldn't call Kovalchuk's situation remotely close to the media whoring that LeBron James partook in, but it makes sense that 29 other teams are waiting to see what happens with him before moving forward.

Perhaps we'll find out what all of our team's rosters will look like by the time training camp opens next month.