I rarely post spur of the moment, as I don’t like articles to run on purely fan emotion, but tonight’s mega-news that hit the Twitter-wire like a sack of potatoes caused me to open up Microsoft Word and start typing away.
ESPN was the first to report the receipt of a text message from Garth Snow stating his interest in Ilya Kovalchuk to be truthful. Shortly thereafter, TSN began reporting in Canada that their sources were hearing numbers in the 10-year, $90-$100 million dollar range. From that point on, tweets by respected hockey sources ranging from Darren Dregger to Lyle Richardson, and to the not-so-respected and infamous Eklund have been running rampant and leading to more and more speculation about Kovalchuk’s final destination point.
Although the Los Angeles Kings have long been considered the front-runner for the services of Ilya Kovalchuk, it has been nearly two full days since the opening of free agency, and still no deal has been struck between Dean Lombardi and Kovalchuk’s agent, Jay Grossman, indicating a difference in either term or value of the contract. The longer the delay in reaching an agreement, the more obvious it was that other teams were going to get involved, however, few would expect the New York Islanders to be that team.
The New York Islanders, even after today’s signings of Mark Eaton, Milan Jurcina, Zenon Konopka, and P.A Parenteau, still fall around $6-$8 million dollars short of the salary floor, meaning that Garth Snow would need to acquire contracts over the coming months adding up to that value just in order for the team to be eligible to play. With that being the case, the thought of Kovalchuk being signed by the Islanders doesn’t seem too farfetched, now does it?
Obviously we hear about the financial issues, the problems with the once-optimistic Lighthouse Project, and the “circus” that the organization was under Mike Milbury, however, under a more stern and level-headed general manager in Garth Snow, the Islanders have not only brought back a decent amount of credibility off the ice, they have also stacked the prospect cupboards for the on-ice product, boasting future stars in John Tavares, Kyle Okposo, Nino Niederreiter, and an assortment of others. With the addition of Ilya Kovalchuk to a line-up that improved tremendously last year, the Islanders could find themselves in the playoffs at the end of the 2010-2011 NHL regular season.
Most importantly, according to many of the tweets from respected sources on Twitter, Charles Wang wants to see Kovalchuk in an Islander jersey. With the release of Kate Murray’s scaled-down Lighthouse Project set to release sometime in the coming week, what a way for Wang to make a statement about the future of the Islanders in terms of on-ice product.
Will it get done? Its very early to say, but the fact that the Islanders have the cap room to do it, coupled with the fact that the ever-stubborn Charles Wang wants it to get done, things could become very interesting on Long Island this Fourth of July. If TSN and ESPN’s sources are held to be true, Kovalchuk could become the most expensive Fourth of July firework show on Long Island at 10 years, $100 million dollars.
Justin’s Note: It’s still a far way off, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed. The Islanders not only need this elite talent to make the team better, but they need this to increase fan interest. At 10 years, $90 million dollars, Snow should take it and run. Even with substantial increases in contractual values for Tavares, Okposo, Bailey, Niederreiter, and all the prospects over the next few years, the Islanders will still be able to safely stay under the cap. Snow has proven to be a very smart and patient general manager over the past few seasons, and I put my faith behind him in this one. If he finds the right price, Islander fans and I will be jumping for joy.
About the Author: Justin is a die-hard Islanders fan and hockey enthusiast. Besides attending nearly 35 Islanders games per year, and watching the rest on TV, Justin also manages to catch most of the Rangers, Devils, and Bruins games on TV as well, thanks to the location of his college. While he started off just an Islanders fan, his love for the game has allowed him to branch out and just enjoy hockey in every aspect. He aims to provide a new and insightful voice to Hockey Independent.