Afternoon Bantering Points: An Ode To Ilya Kovalchuk And Looking At The RFAs

do svidaniya, Ilya, do svidaniya - Martin Rose

An ode to one of my favorite players to ever play in the NHL, and looking at the Rangers RFA situation.

I was eleven years old when the Atlantapeg Thrashets drafted a big bodied, smooth skating Russian winger with a nuclear shot in Ilya Kovalchuk. At the time I was still playing roller hockey and as a right handed left winger that could somewhat skate and had an underwhelming, but good for the league I played in, shot. Kovalchuk was the first player that I tried to model my game after.

When I realized I couldn't skate backwards that experiment ended pretty quickly. Even still, I followed Ilya's career closely and he quickly jumped up the leaderboards on my "favorite players" ranking.

So when Kovalchuk announced his retirement from the NHL last week I was floored just as everyone else was on Twitter and social media.

When more of the details came out about Kovy's retirement I couldn't help but feel for the guy. Yes, we all know he's gonna make a lot of money when he signs his impending KHL deal ($15-20 million a year according to some reports and rumors) but he's also going home, back to his family and really, how can anyone call him "selfish" for that?

What if it were you? Living in a foreign country, working almost 6 months out of the year and not able to really see your family. Oh and everyone in that country hates you because of some dated stereotypes and you're limited control of the local language.

I'm honestly surprised guys like Alex Ovechkin, Evgeni Malkin and Pavel Datsyuk stay in the NHL when you have talking heads like Mike Millbury and Jeremy Roenick yelling at you for no reason.

Anyway, I'm going to continue supporting Kovalchuk as he goes through his career in the KHL, and if he returns to the NHL one day I'll be right here watching the Mustang of the hockey world do what he does best.

Ok...onto the thoughts and bullet points:

  • How bout them RFAs! Ryan McDonagh and Carl Hagelin have hot new deals, Mats Zuccarello and Derek Stepan are going to get done (I'm gonna say by the end of this week) and the Rangers have more than enough room to fit both of them under the cap.
  • While I love Chris Kreider's humility at times and his deference to his teammates off the ice, I'd really like to hear him say that he's going to be on the roster and not "just trying to make the team"
  • That being said, I think Kreider on the top six is a lock based on his skill alone. I have a feeling he's gonna have a more comfortable year in the NHL now that he's gotten his feet wet.
  • I forgot about what Dominic Moore went through with his wife...man I know who I'm pulling for extra harder to have a good year next year.
  • A couple things to look forward to this week are the NHL releasing the schedule for next year and most likely following that will be the announcement of the NHL participating in the Olympics in 2014. So that's pretty cool
  • ...Man, July sucks for hockey news.
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