NHL Free Agency: Ilya Kovalchuk and Los Angeles Kings Talking?

Several hockey sources (including Helene Elliot of the L.A. Times) are reporting that the Los Angeles Kings and Ilya Kovalchuk are talking deal.

The biggest stumbling block is, of course, money, with Kovalchuk believed to be asking for a long term deal in the $10 million per year range.

The Kings finished the 2009-10 season with a 46-27-9 record, good enough for sixth overall in the Western Conference.

While offense was not an issue for the Kings last season (averaged 2.82 goals per game—eighth best in the NHL), the addition of Kovalchuk (who has the potential to score 50 goals in any given season) would catapult the Kings into an offensive juggernaut, giving their young defense and average goaltending some much needed breathing room.

The Kings currently have $44,713,334 committed to 16 players, leaving them with a total of $17,526,666 in salary cap money with which to sign six players. The Kings are thought to be looking for Kovalchuk to come down from his $10 million demand, that said, even if the Kings did sign him for $10 million per, the Kings would have plenty of cap dollars left to shore up their lineup.

The addition of Kovachuk would turn the Kings into an instant contender and, by all accounts, would send Los Angeles into a hockey frenzy not seen since the acquisition of Wayne Gretzky.

Also said to be in the mix are the New Jersey Devils—the team that traded for Kovalchuk at the 2010 trade deadline.

The Devils have said all along that they would be players in the Kovalchuk sweepstakes but with $55,391,667 committed to 18 players, Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello will have to work some magic to fit a contract the size of Kovalchuk’s into the salary cap.

For now, Kings fans will have to hold off on Kovi-mania, but it may be just a matter of time before the Kings announce this signing.

Stay tuned, the Kovalchuk sweepstakes is just getting started!


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