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Islanders in the hunt for Kovalchuk, amp up the crazy with colossal offer

Jul 2, 2010, 11:38 PM EDT

kovalchukjuly1.jpgLeave it to Islanders owner Charles Wang to know how to stir things up. While the Islanders had a busy day signing free agents today, there wasn’t a lot to really write home about as far as big names go. Perhaps that’s because the Islanders have been laying in the weeds ready to make a strike for this year’s biggest free agent prize, Ilya Kovalchuk.

Things started with a pair of virtually simultaneous tweets from both TSN’s Darren Dreger and the LA Times’ Helene Elliott saying that the Islanders are now in the hunt for the high-scoring Russian winger. Dreger then follows that information up with this blockbuster piece of info.

One source suggests the Isles offer to be $10 mil x 10 yrs. Yikes!

Now to put things in perspective here, the main thing the Isles can do regarding Kovalchuk is offer up oodles of cap space to fit his supposed desired amount of money, that being around $10 million a year. The Islanders, as it happens, are about $9 million under the salary floor.

For each good thing that this deal could do for the Isles (adding a legit stud scorer, someone to build a campaign for Wang’s Lighthouse Project around, an instant draw for fans) there’s also a negative way to look at things for the Islanders as well.

If you added up the money that Kovalchuk, oft-injured goalie Rick DiPietro and long since bought out of town malcontent Alexei Yashin would have devoted to the Isles salary cap next year, you’d have $19.255 million spoken for. Considering that DiPietro is injured more than he plays and Yashin has been getting paid by the Islanders to be a KHL star for the last few years, that’s a staggering amount of money not being put to great use.

As always, there’s someone that can help us find some justification and Islanders Point Blank’s Chris Botta gets us through the madness with this slice of logic.

If you’re an Islanders follower, you have to be intrigued. If Charles Wang was okay with giving $30 million to an unflashy defenseman like Dan Hamhuis, what’s $80 million for an every-season 40-goal scorer?

It’s sound logic when you take into consideration the Isles had all of two players score more than 20 goals last season (Matt Moulson – 30, John Tavares 24) and adding Kovalchuk to the mix with those two guys as well as Kyle Okposo, all of a sudden things are looking up for the Isles.

Factor in the amount of great youth they’ve acquired through the draft the last few years that will be on their way up to the NHL in the next couple seasons, all of a sudden getting Ilya Kovalchuk at $10 million a year looks like a drastic investment in the future of the Isles. After all, Kovalchuk is just 28 years old so when players like Travis Hamonic, Nino Niederreiter, Brock Nelson, Kirill Kabanov, and Calvin De Haan are potentially ready to jump into the NHL, Kovalchuk is the veteran leader of an army of talented young players.

For now, chalk this up for what it is: An outstanding offer from a team that doesn’t exactly fit one of Kovalchuk’s wants for signing a long-term deal. They’re not a winning team. They could be, and Kovalchuk could certainly be the spark plug in leading the charge for the Islanders future, but right now the Isles can only truly satisfy the other thing Kovalchuk wants and that is to get paid big time.

  1. Bob - Jul 3, 2010 at 12:44 AM

    I think you hit the nail on the head on this one. Kovalchuck Wants two things, Get paid, and WIN…..The Islanders can only give him one not the other and the more important factor to kovalchuk. He will Sign with either LA or NJ because he seems more concerned with winning then just cashing in.

  2. Scott - Jul 3, 2010 at 12:49 AM

    Bob,
    LA is going to deal for Simon Gagne
    Look it up
    The Devils have 4 million dollars in cap room so how exactly is he going to go there?
    Isles were linked to him at the deadline and now we no that wasn’t complete crap!! IMO this gets done before long
    KOVY coming to the Island!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  3. frankie - Jul 3, 2010 at 12:57 AM

    Oh man.
    The Islanders: Where players go to die off and then get bought out.
    If he goes there, he can kiss any chance at a cup (and the playoffs most years) goodbye.
    That’s a lot of cash though. This will show what kind of player he is. Interested in the cup or the money? He’ll let us know soon.

  4. StakeX - Jul 3, 2010 at 2:11 AM

    Kovalchuk is going to go to Russia and play next year IMO. Money seems to be his main focus, and he simply cannot get the money here that he can in the KHL… not even close. So it only seems logical thats where hes going to land. I can’t say I blame him really if he does do that. Hes Russian himself, so he would be playing at home and collecting a far bigger paycheck with great tax breaks. Sure theres the desire to win the cup and all… but not every NHL player really cares all that much about winning at the end of the day. You get paid if you win the cup or miss the playoffs just the same for the most part, and at the end of the day its just a job… who in their right mind wouldn’t want to make as much money as possible in any other job? So why do we believe pro athleats are any different?
    And anyone who think Kovalchuk isn’t just out for the cash should really look at how much he wants. Hes not going to get $10 mil from any team thats going to win the cup in the next five years… its just not going to happen because none of thoes teams have enough cap space. If he was willing to take 7.5 million a year (close to his value IMO due to his lack of accomplishment) he might well be able to fit under the cap on a potential cup contender. But nope… he wants the big bucks. And that extra 2.5 mil or so is a huge amount in a hard cap world… taking slightly less money would allow for whatever team he joins to spend money on other players and thus make the team as a whole better. Yet, all signs say he has no desire to take such a paycut.
    So it would seem (at least to me) that winning isn’t really on his mind… all he sees is dollar signs. Again, I’m not really saying theres anything wrong with that… just that winning is not his priority as some want to believe it is.

  5. Isles Fan - Jul 3, 2010 at 10:53 AM

    Us Islanders fans need something like this. We need something big, and this is what we have to do in order to get someone big. Lord knows they won’t come here with any normal offer.
    And It’s not like there’s nothing on this team; there’s a lot of young guys, led by Tavares, who have showed some promise.
    I don’t think this is actually going to happen. But it’s nice to have some hope now and then.

  6. Randy - Jul 3, 2010 at 12:25 PM

    The New York Isles certainly have not been winners in eons. They have an antiquated arena and desperately need to fine a new home. That said the Isles are absolutely on the cusp of something special. There is a burst of talented young players there and more on the way. Kovalchuk can find an incredible amount of satisfaction over the course of his contract there. The Isles were in the playoff hunt for the vast majority of the season last year. With the maturation of the present talent and the addition of Kovalchuk it could be one sweet marriage for the next decade. They can win NOW!!!

  7. John Pileggi - Jul 3, 2010 at 1:16 PM

    Charles Wang must have a lot of money to waste or be completely nuts.

  8. josh alley - Jul 4, 2010 at 1:35 AM

    Forget about it isle fans, he’s not going there. Doesn’t matter how much money they give him. I’ve said it from the beginning, it’s Kings or KHL for Kovalchuk. The Kings are obviously a team that is far more on the rise than the islanders. Yet, I’m starting to think he won’t go there either because of the money issue and the re-signing of some players dean lombardi has to do(Jack Johnson and Drew Doughty). It’s all about the benjamins with Kovalchuk, and I won’t be surprised if he’s raking in 10-15 million next year with SKA St. Petersburg of the KHL.

  9. intrigued - Jul 4, 2010 at 3:41 AM

    Hopefully the contract is front loaded so that when the young talent the Islanders have matures they’ll have the space to keep them around.

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