Las Vegas–With the 2018 NHL Draft happening in Dallas later today, the Golden Knights are among 4 teams still in the hunt for Ilya Kovalchuk.
Resident NHL Hockey Insider with TSN Pierre LeBrun confirms that Kovalchuk’s agent J.P. Barry will in fact be meeting with the Golden Knights at some point today along with the Boston Bruins, San Jose Sharks, and Los Angeles Kings to take things to the next step in the process.
Expectation is that J.P. Barry, agent for Ilya Kovalchuk, will meet with the top four contenders for the UFA's services today _ Boston, L.A., SJ and Vegas _ to advance proceedings along.
— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) June 22, 2018
It was just about a week ago that Kovalchuk went to California to meet in person with the Kings and Sharks.
Earlier this past week, it was Bruins Head Coach Bruce Cassidy who stated with the Boston Globe’sthat Kovalchuk would be a “Nice fit” for his team. This could mean the Bruins are potentially parting ways with current UFA Rick Nash.
Cassidy on Kovalchuk signing with Bruins: "Nice fit."https://t.co/Uavvi0f6S3
— Kevin Paul Dupont (@GlobeKPD) June 20, 2018
The other teams that were in the mix for Kovalchuk services at the start of the process included the Anaheim Ducks, St. Louis Blues, New York Rangers, New York Islanders, Dallas Stars, and the Detroit Red Wings.
These teams were mentioned by TSN’s Resident Hockey Insider Derren Drager.
Drager did echo that the Golden Knights as being “top contenders” for Kovalchuk’s services.
Right now, General Manager George McPhee still has to figure out if he’s going to resign James Neal and David Perron who are both UFA’s.
As for Kovalchuk, since the 2013-14 season has been playing over in the KHL with SKA St. Petersburg. The same club in Russia that forward Vadim Shipachyov played on.
From 2013 thru 2018, Kovalchuk has played in 262 games with SKA St. Petersburg. In that time, he scored 120 goals, 165 assists for 285 points. He also had back to back seasons where he scored 30 goals or more (2016-17 and 2017-18).
He also won two Gagarin Cup Championships with SKA St. Petersburg (2014-15 and 2016-17).
Kovalchuk won gold in South Korea this year as a member of the Olympic Athletes from Russia hockey team.
At 35 years of age, Kovalchuk does have NHL experience under his belt during his time with the then Atlanta Thrashers organization and with the New Jersey Devils. With 859 games played from 2001 thru 2013, Kovalchuk scored 417 goals, tallied 399 assists for 816 points and was a -116.
Don’t let that -116 scare one bit as Kovy was playing on teams that were pretty much marginal at best. The only time his Trashers saw the Stanley Cup playoffs was in the 2006-07 season. In that year, they were knocked out by the New York Rangers in 4 games.
For Kovalchuk having seen his friend Alexander Ovechkin win the 2018 Stanley Cup with the Washington Capitals this year, he wants the same for himself too.
Back in the 2011-12 season with the New Jersey Devils, Kovalchuk was just two wins away from the cup but the Los Angeles Kings claimed on home ice at Staples Center.
So with the July 1 NHL Free Agent window approaching, Kovalchuk will have to wait to officially sign with the club that he has decides to go with.
Right now, the ball in is Kovalchuk’s court as he continues to weight out his options ahead of the 2018-19 season.
Update 10:53 am
Well it looks like the asking price for Kovalchuk is out. Kovalchuk is seeking a 3 year deal worth $18.75 million. That’s $6.25 million per season which the is the same amount as former longtime San Jose Sharks forward Patrick Marleau signed with the Toronto Maple Leafs last year.
If it’s going to be a two year term for Kovalchuk he seeks a higher contract value than Marleau.
Kovalchuk’s ask? Source says Marleau is the comp; Marleau signed 3 x $6.25 million at age 36. Kovalchuk is 35. Seeking a higher AAV than Marleau if it’s a two-year deal. Term very important
— DJ Bean (@DJ_Bean) June 22, 2018
With nearly $31 million in cap space to work with for the Golden Knights according to Capfriendly.com this would not even put a dent into. With Neal a UFA, his cap for the last year of his contract was $5 million.
Among the remaining teams that are still alive in the Kovalchuk sweepstakes, the Golden Knights have the most to spend.
Update 3:20 pm
The waiting game continues as Kovalchuk goes into the decision phase after his agent JP Barry met with the Golden Knights, Sharks, Kings, and Bruins as Dregar reported earlier.
JP Barry met with Boston, LA, SJ, and Vegas today on Kovalchuk. No timeline on a decision, although teams are eager to learn.
— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) June 22, 2018