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If you’ve read past work on this situation, where I’ve sited points from Canadian radio or other articles around the blogosphere, you would know that the Ilya Kovalchuk sweepstakes keeps going.
Late last night, via twitter, conversations came up that Kovalchuck and the Thrashers have hit a point in contract talks with most speculating the drama will conclude by week’s end. Pierre LeBrun of ESPN stated in an article on Saturday that the new year would have some critical news in the Kovalchuck endeavors. Well, all signs are pointing to LeBrun’s speculation as accurate.
Supposedly Kovalchuk will sign a deal with the Thrashers worth between 8 million and 11 million per year in the range of a 10-12 years. This signing would be great news for the Thrashers organization and bad news for 29 other teams that hoping to acquire the Russian sniper with a tempting package.
Kovalchuck’s agent Jay Grossman and Atlanta Thrashers GM Don Waddell met this weekend during the World Junior Hockey Championships and with the team presenting a deal to Grossman. Now the decision rests on Kovalchuk’s shoulders. Does he want to stay in Atlanta, a place he publicly stated he loves? Do his his fears of relocation trump this supposed love affair?
There are still other scenarios however.
As we approach the midway point of the 2009-10 season in the National Hockey League, many questions remain unanswered.
Which teams are serious about playoff contention? Who needs a massive upgrade to make the push from a bubble team? Which team should sell off the year and attempt a mini-rebuild?
Those are some thoughts circulating the League as we take a look at the state of all teams around the NHL. Now, when perusing through certain rosters some names that could bring in returns which would benefit a team in need of depth.
Today, we look at the defensemen around the NHL likely to be moved by the March 3rd, 2010 trade deadline. As a side note, be sure to tune into “The Hockey Guys” on deadline day as there will be an all day live event with a live chat room for discussion on all the rumors and news as it breaks in the NHL.
Earlier today, the Vancouver Canucks placed veteran defenseman Mathieu Schneider on waivers. Team 1040 AM Vancouver interviewed head coach Alain Vigneault about the team’s recent play and their decision to place him on waivers.
Both the Canucks and Schneider mutually felt waivers was the best route to take. According to reports the team attempted to trade the veteran for the past month, but there were no buyers.
In this cap constrained era of the new NHL his hefty cap hit of 2.75 million is quite the amount to absorb, so most teams should pass on a waiver claim. Now, the speculation changes to the veteran getting put on re-entry waivers, in which a team would absorb roughly a 1.25 million cap hit. Let the rumors begin as to which GM decides to pick up the phone and contact Canucks GM Mike Gillis should he place Schneider on re-entry waivers. As a veteran of 22 seasons and experienced powerplay quarterback, the 40-year-old could help a team in need of depth.
A brief run down as to who might go after his services should he go on re-entry waivers:
The Washington Capitals and Columbus Blue Jackets officially make a deal in which Columbus sends solid left wing Jason Chimera in exchange for depth defenseman Milan Jurcina and surprisingly team captain Chris Clark
The Capitals receive probably the best player of the bunch in Chimera, who last year would have posted career highs had he stayed healthy. The 30-year-old veteran carries a reasonable 1.875 cap hit, a fair price for a grinding wing who shows the ability to put up points.
Clark, now the former captain of the Caps, admits to being shocked he was traded. This trade may mark the first time a first-place team traded away their captain, however it was the smart move. The 33-year-old sported a hefty 2.633 million cap hit this year and next, something a contending team simply should not pay for considering he posted two less points than Chimera.
In Jurcina the Jackets get a warm body on the blue line, something they needed since Rostislav Klesla went down at the beginning of the month. More importantly the Blue Jackets shake the team up, as they promised they would do. Used mainly as a depth defenseman, Jurcina posted four helpers in 27 games while carrying a 1.375 cap hit.
Tom Reed of The Columbus Dispatch recently reported that Blue Jackets GM Scott Howson will shake things up soon in an attempt to send a message to his team. Considered a strong team with room for improvement following their first playoff berth, the young team struggled and currently sit in 14th in the Western Conference, just one point above cellar dweller the Edmonton Oilers.
The difference between the Oilers and Blue Jackets however are injuries. The Oilers lost their number one goalie and arguably their number one scorer, if not for the breakout year of Dustin Penner and admirable job by Jeff Deslauriers thinks could be even worse in the province of Alberta.
The Blue Jackets’ problems prove not as simple. A sophomore slump from Derick Brassard and Steve Mason severely hurt their chances, as well as the deportation of Nikita Filatov. Couple those problems with the injury to top defenseman Rostislav Klesla and the Jackets lost key components to last year’s playoff team.
Nevertheless, Howson stayed the course admitting he would not make any panic moves. At this point a move seems too late. Recent rumblings around Twitter point to Karl Alzner moving to Columbus.
As Tarik El-Bashir of The Washington Post reports left wing turned right wing Alexander Semin signed a one year extension worth six million dollars. Definitely a smart move to lock up a player the caliber of this young man.
Semin receives a slight raise from his reasonable five million dollar salary while avoiding either an arbitration hearing or offer sheet temptation. The 25-year-old certainly put the production up to deserve a raise, arguably even into the 7 million dollar range. In his last 91 games the native of Krasjonarsk posted 111 points, well over a PPG range.
What does this mean for Semin?
Earlier in the week there was speculation on Semin, amongst others, moving to Atlanta in a swap for Ilya Kovalchuk. Although this deal seems incredibly far-fetched and unlikely, signing Semin to an extension would make him more attractive to a team receiving him.
Some players around the League find themselves at a career crossroad. A crossroad with tough decisions to make regarding ongoing speculation of their final season. Speculation whether to stay on a sinking ship and finish at the bottom of the sea or leaving one’s comfort zone in an attempt to stay on top. Certainly no easy decision for any player
While Scott Niedermayer ponders his future in hockey he continues another solid year in his famed career. The same cannot be said for the Anaheim Ducks, who sit 13th in the Western Conference despite coming off a come from behind victory against the Colorado Avalanche. The team finds themselves as of this writing a mere five points behind the eighth seed.
The asking price for the captain should be reasonable, as he would strictly be a playoff rental. However, GM Brian Murray can acquire a potential piece or pieces to build for a brighter future in sunny Anaheim.
A quick look around the league shows there are a few teams in need of Niedermayer’s services. At 37, he still is one of the best defensemen in the game and a huge piece for a few teams looking for that extra push into serious cup contention.
Lets take a closer look at which teams could trade for Niedermayer in order to bring home Lord Stanley’s Cup. Even though he already carries four Stanley Cup rings to his credit, every player in this league starts the season with one goal in mind.
If you listened to the Team 1040 AM stream like I did, you would know new rumors around Ilya Kovalchuk continue to spread like wildfire.
The newest and latest rumors discussed are the Washington Capitals as front runners in the Kovalchuk sweepstakes. Interestingly enough, David Pagnotta of The Fourth Period says as much as Kovalchuk loves Atlanta, there are bigger issues there in hindsight.
Going back to the 1040 AM discussion, Washington as an organization boasts numerous movable assets. Since the permanent Michael Nylander demotion, a fair amount of open cap space opened up for the club so perhaps they have both the room and assets necessary to acquire the services of Kovalchuk.
Naturally the centerpeice would have to be either Alexander Semin or Nicklas Backstrom along with another player like Eric Fehr. Kovalchuk should claim a bounty larger than that of former teammate Marian Hossa, so there would need to be work on both sides.
With Avs rumors swirling around the internet, beat writer Adrian Dater of The Denver Post puts pretty much every current rumor involving youngsters Matt Duchene or Ryan O’Reilly to shame.
So the answer to the talented twosome leaving Colorado is no. These rumors are false. No move will be made for Ilya Kovalchuk. No need to swap veteran underachievers with the Flyers. Nothing.
Dater, however, does hypothesize as to what till happen once Kyle Cumiskey returns from his foot injury. Cumiskey, a young defenseman known for his offensive prowess very well could be the odd man out. However, a 23-year-old d-man with limited NHL experience and a lengthy injury history provides limited value in the current trade market.
That leaves two players likely on the block: Jean-Michael Liles and Ryan Wilson. The latter an undrafted free agent who at the ripe age of 22 actually is producing at the NHL level.
Turning a free-agent signing into a need would be excellent asset management as long as the team feels the current player they see is his ceiling. His reasonable capt hit of $ 551, 667 through 2011 certainly adds remarkable value should he be shopped.