Rangers Rumor Roundup: Kovalchuk Decision Coming

Kovalchuk (KHL)

Hello all! @NHLRumorsDaily here with the highly anticipated Ilya Kovalchuk update! Previously, FullTiltNYR.com reported that Kovalchuk had put in a trade request to the Columbus Blue Jackets and New York Rangers, and should his request not be met, he would return to the KHL before coming back to the NHL next year as a UFA. That hasn’t changed, however many discussions have been held behind the scenes, and this update will cover that.

Where Does Kovy Stand?

Since the last update, Kovalchuk has met with his KHL club, SKA St. Petersburg, and set up preliminary terms for a return if his request was not met. As per Slava Malamud, a Russian insider on Twitter, Kovy’s decision will be coming as soon as Monday.

Sources tell me that Kovalchuk is fully committed to an NHL return and will do so in the next year, but his main focus is getting back to the league this season.

Will the Devils Trade Him Across the Hudson?

From the info that I received last night, Rangers GM Jeff Gorton has tried to engage Devils GM Ray Shero in trade talks for the 34-year-old Russian sniper, but it has been to no avail at this point. The Rangers plan is to either trade JT Miller for a true center or move Miller back to center, either way opening up a hole on the wing for Kovalchuk. Another factor is cap space; as I’m hearing that the Kovalchuk camp is looking for a 2-3 year deal, similar in AAV to what his Russian counterpart, Alex Radulov, received last season from the Montreal Canadiens. As of now, it does not seem likely that Kovy lands with the Blueshirts due to the trade blockade between the two teams, however that could change fast if the Devils’ leverage disappears.

New Jersey’s Leverage

Shero, as it stands, does not have to discuss a trade with the Rangers to grant Kovalchuck’s wishes, because the Blueshirts are not the only team on Ilya’s list. The Blue Jackets, Kovy’s other preferred destination, have been frantically clearing cap room for a huge move, speculated to be for Colorado center Matt Duchene. And while that is true, both Columbus and the Rangers have spoken to Kovalchuk’s agent and know what the ballpark number a Kovy contract would be. New Jersey and Columbus have discussed a potential sign-and-trade for Kovalchuk, but no deal has been agreed upon as of now. As for the Rangers, no such deal with NJ has been discusssed, and most likely won’t unless Kovalchuk focuses in on MSG as his lone destination.

More info should be coming from this ever changing situation as we move closer to Kovalchuk’s decision. I will be providing an update on this matter, right here on FullTiltNYR.com, tomorrow, but in the meantime, stay glued to @NHLRumorsDaily and @FullTiltNYRBlog on Twitter for any breaking news. Cheers!

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