Surprise, surprise: The New Jersey Devils have apparently won the bidding war with the Los Angeles Kings for free agent center Ilya Kovalchuk. This is being reported by the Newark Star-Ledger and the New York Post. The Devils' official Twitter feed reports a press conference will be held Tuesday at the Prudential Center.
The Devils' rental of Kovalchuk last year didn't go well, as they were first-round playoff losers to the Flyers. The deal with Atlanta that cost them Niclas Bergfors and Johnny Oduya among others would have been a total bust had Kovalchuk left for LA or somewhere else. Now, at least, they can build around him and make another run this year.
Terms and cap ramifications will be interesting, as it remains to be seen if the Devils will need to shed anyone from their roster to make room for what figures to be a huge salary. After signing Henrik Tallinder and Anton Volchenkov, the Devils only had about $4.2 million in cap space. So they're either dealing or this contract is going to be heavily-heavily-heavily frontloaded. We'll see.
NHL.com has a good story on the new-look Devils. Lots of big-money names with a rookie head coach (John MacLean) behind the bench. I remain skeptical. Kovalchuk has won one playoff game in his career, let alone a series or the four needed to win the Stanley Cup. And let's see who they have to jettison to get under the cap before planning that Cup parade through beautiful, bucolic Newark.
UPDATE: Lots of chatter around Twitter, including a Russian report quoting Kovalchuk's mother, that reports it's a 17-year deal. Yes, 17. The New York Post reported last week the Devils had a 17-year deal on the table for Kovalchuk.
ESPN.com is reporting 17 years for $150 million.
UPDATE II: ESPN.com has changed its report, saying it's the 17/100M the Post had last week. Total earnings of $150M, although it's not clear what that means.
taggedex-Sabres | NHL | NHL free agency