Unfortunately this is not an actual news story but simply one man’s bold prediction. Before you blast me for the headline, lets look at the facts so you can see my thought process.
The latest from Chris Vivlamore of The Atlanta Journal Constitution states that the talks between the two are currently at a stand still. However, Kovalchuk went on record to state, “he would like to stay with the same team his whole career. However, he understands that hockey is a business.”
Yes Ilya, hockey is a business. You need to see that the business of the Atlanta Thrasher is Ilya Kovalchuk. This team lives and dies by the blade of his stick. The signings of Nik Antropov, Maxim Afinogenov as well as the acquisition of Pavel Kubina directly correlate to this team wanting to succeed with Kovalchuk.
So lets go over some facts. The consensus rumors cite Kovalchuk wanting the league maximum over a ten year span, a total he certainly deserves. By the CBA agreement, the maximum allows for 20 percent of the teams cap. As the cap currently stands at 56.8 million and looks to stay within that range with our booming economy, our Russian star stands to make at least 11.36 million a year.
By my calculations even if Kovalchuk does sign at this maximum contract at the maximum cap hit, the Thrashers boast over 20 million worth of cap dollars left on their budget. How many other teams can say they have this much room? Better yet, how many teams already have surrounded Kovy with teammates he thrives with due to both nationality and chemistry?
Granted a player like Kovalchuk on the open market forces a team to make room. Last offseason we saw the Rangers trade Scott Gomez in order to sign Marian Gaborik, so something along these lines is not out of the ordinary.
Suppose the words coming out of his mouth are completely true and he wants to stay a life-long Thrasher. This team does not need to be hamstrung by one player taking up over 20 percent. If he really is that devoted he will take a ten-year contract which keeps him with the team through his 37th birthday. A fine specimen like himself likely will play past that rip old age.
So my proposal to the Thrashers and to Kovalchuk: Agree to a contract worth 116.6 million over 13 years. This gives Kovalchuk league maximum over 10 years while keeping his cap number to a more reasonable 8,969,230 which is roughly 1.5 million above the number Gaborik most recently received. This cap hit would also allow the team to keep their young roster players like Zach Bogosian, Ondrej Pavelec, Bryan Little and Evander Kane in Atlanta.
So in short, my scenario would be a win-win situation for all parties involved. In this climate, however, things change quickly and as Vivlamore points out Kovalchuk will be on the move if contract talks remain stalled. For all we know these recent quotes could be merely pillow talk and the talented player could head home to make even more money. Look for us to continue with the coverage as this situation plays out.
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