The Ilya Kovalchuk trade watch rolls on.
Last week, the New York Post reported Islanders GM Garth Snow contacted Atlanta Thrashers GM Don Waddell inquiring into Kovalchuk’s availability.
While no offer was made, the Post speculates Snow might be willing to part with his 2010 first round pick and perhaps a couple of top prospects. Young talents John Tavares, Kyle Okposo and Josh Bailey, however, would not be part of the offer.
Kevin Allen of USA Today doesn’t believe Waddell would shop Kovalchuk to a conference rival when both clubs are battling for a playoff berth.
It’s been suggested Kovalchuk might sign this summer with a Kontinental League team as he could earn perhaps $20 million tax-free per season on a two- or three-year contract.
A source close to the Kovalchuk camp recently told me they received some short-term offers from KHL teams, but added it’s not where Kovalchuk’s interests are.
• Another pending Russian UFA who’s been the subject of trade rumors is Los Angeles Kings winger Alex Frolov, but according to Kings GM Dean Lombardi, Frolov isn’t likely to be shopped even if he’s unsigned by the March 3 trade deadline.
In recent years, Lombardi was willing to move out players he was unable to re-sign before the trade deadline, but this season the Kings are in playoff contention, leaving him loath to shop a roster player.
• The Ottawa Senators’ inconsistent goaltending recently had Ottawa Sun columnist Bruce Garrioch wondering if management would consider shopping for an upgrade, like Islanders netminder Martin Biron, who is believed to be available now that Rick DiPietro has returned to the lineup.
If the Senators’ goalie woes continue they might consider looking for outside help, but that’s not likely to happen yet. As for Biron’s availability, the Isles won’t be moving him until they’re certain the oft-injured DiPietro is capable of playing out the season and they’re not yet ready to take that risk.
• Allan Walsh, the agent for Minnesota Wild winger Petr Sykora, recently expressed his unhappiness with his client’s lack of playing time via his Twitter account, which the Minneapolis Star-Tribune believed was aimed at Wild coach Todd Richards.
Walsh recently “tweeted” Richards treated Sykora with less respect than a rookie and listed the veteran winger’s career statistics and experience.
The Star-Tribune article suggested Wild management might be shopping the little-used, unhappy Sykora.
Given his experience, Sykora could still have value on the trade market by the March 3 deadline for playoff-bound clubs seeking affordable veteran depth at forward. It wouldn’t be surprising if he’s playing elsewhere by early March.
• Even though the Chicago Blackhawks are currently among the top teams in the league, rumors persist their management team could make a big splash by the trade deadline.
Last month there was speculation they’d make a pitch for Atlanta’s Ilya Kovalchuk and now, courtesy of the Ottawa Sun, come “whispers” Blackhawks management are concerned about their goaltending and might be looking to beef up that position.
The basis for this is the Blackhawks need to get under next season’s salary cap, suggesting goaltender Cristobal Huet could be among several players management tries to move.
However, two facts are overlooked: the Blackhawks don’t have to dump salary now, but rather in the off-season, and Huet and backup Antti Niemi have played well this season, as their statistics clearly indicate.
The Hawks will stick with their current tandem for the rest of the season. Barring a major late-season slump, Blackhawks management has little reason to make any trade of significance.
• ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun believes the New York Rangers are a team that could have interest in Edmonton Oilers defenseman Sheldon Souray, who might be willing to waive his no-movement clause for the opportunity. However, the Rangers would first have to clear cap space by moving either Michal Rozsival or Wade Redden, likely by demotion to the minors.
Given that Souray’s children reside with their mother in Los Angeles, the defender might be more inclined to waive his clause for a California- or western-based team, rather than one on the east coast.
As for demoting Redden, that notion has been kicked around in the New York media for some time and one would assume if the Rangers were seriously considering that option they might’ve done it by now.
Rumor Roundup appears Mondays and Thursdays only on thehockeynews.com. Lyle Richardson has been an NHL commentator since 1998 on his website, spectorshockey.net, and is a contributing writer for Foxsports.com and Eishockey Magazine.