Rangers Analysis: Is Ilya Kovalchuk Worth What He Would Cost?
So he's back. Ilya Kovalchk is once again the man of the hour (week? Month? Year?), and on the free agent list again. His 17-year $102 million contract was reject by the NHL, and that decision was upheld by Richard Bolch in the arbitration hearing. So one again we sit and speculate and Kovalchuk gives us the run around.
Since Kovalchuk is once again the topic of NHL conversation, it's only natural to speculate about where he will end up. I have even seen some of you advocate trying to get him to come here, at the expense of guys like Evgeny Grachev. My question is this: why would you sacrifice youth for Kovalchuk?
Kovalchuk is a very attractive piece to add to any puzzle, but that's not what the point of this post is. The point of this post is: is Kovalchuk worth what the Rangers would have to give up in order to get him? And the answer to that question is a resounding no.
The Rangers have made it very clear that they want to integrate youth into this team as fast as possible. All indications are that we will see an injection on defense, and possibly even two injections of youth on offense. The Rangers went out and got Russian sniper Alexander Frolov for a bargain, in order to help alleviate the scoring pressure from Marian Gaborik.
Glen Sather made a move for Steve Eminger, a guy who might not only compete for a spot, but who will be able to give the younger defensemen days off when needed. Mats Zucarello-Assen looks like a candidate for a spot on the team, as does Dale Weise and Dane Byers.
Now, before I go further let me explain something. My argument as to why the Rangers don't need Kovalchuk anymore is not because he would be taking a spot away from a kid. If the Rangers had any kids who were even remotely close to as talented as Kovalchuk right now, they would already be skating on Garden ice.
What my argument is, is that the Rangers don't need to sacrifice their youth in cap saving packages. To me, trading your top prospect in Grachev along with Redden to remove his cap hit in order to sign Kovalchuk is counterproductive. And BuckarooClub, this doesn't have anything to do with your fanpost per se, you just used Grachev as an example so I will as well.
In fact there has been a huge decrease in Grachev's "approval rating" with Rangers nation, after Grachev had a rough season adjusting to professional hockey. Take it from me guys, give him time, he is a special player, and will be a star on Broadway. You don't want to lose a guy like that in order to erase a mistake. Especially since trading Grachev would be a bigger mistake within itself.
Kovalchuk is one of those rare NHL specimens, who can literally score from anywhere on the ice. His true shooting percentage is through the roof, and his numbers back up his offensive skill every time he touches the puck. But Kovalchuk is like a really sexy looking car in a used dealer lot. You're going to have to overpay to get it, and the salesman probably isn't telling you the whole truth. Like the fact that the car only runs on premium gas, or that it only gets 10 miles to the gallon highway.
Kovalchuk could easily come to the New York Rangers and score 50 goals this year. He will also drive Rangers fans mad with his complete lack of defensive play.
His off the ice issues are also problematic. He continues to prove time and time again that it is all about the money. He rejected the New Jersey Devils 7-year $60 million contract offer, and then brought that figure back to the Los Angeles Kings to match. When they offered him a 12-year $80 million dollar contract, he balked again, wanting to be a million dollar man.
His camp brilliantly utilizes the threat of the KHL potentially luring him away, even though it appears unlikely that he would actually leave the NHL. He lets the 3-year $45 million KHL offer hang over his head during negotiations, giving puppy eyes to teams and making it seem like he is doing them a favor by only asking for $10 million a year.
Devils fans will tell you that he isn't all about the money, but it's quite clear that the money is a huge part of this. Supposedly the second that arbitrator Richard Bolch ruled in favor of the NHL, Lou Lamoriello went back to the drawing board to re-sign Kovalchuk. If Kovalchuk really wanted to be a Devil he would have made this happen already. But there is no ripple on the pond as of yet, because Lamoriello won't make him a "100 million dollar man" if he has to take the appropriate cap hit.
Why would you want a guy like that on this team? Why would you sacrifice one of the brightest lights in the future for a guy like that? Trust me, the Rangers don't need him, but more importantly he doesn't need the Rangers. He will get his $100 million somewhere else, he doesn't need to extract it from Sather.