The Round Table: What Does SB Nation Think Of Ilya Kovalchuck?
Welcome to the first ever Jewels From The Crown discussion titled (appropriately) The Round Table. Our first topic is also appropriately titled What Does SB Nation Think Of Ilya Kovalchuck? With all the talk crawling throughout the web we decided to see what we exactly thought of Kovalchuck and how he could potentially find his way onto the Kings roster.
A big welcome to Rudy Kelly from Battle of California for joining the Kings bloggers' discussion on how we think this all might go down.
FYI: This was done last night and is being published right now. Please join us after the jump!
Connie: Rudy, since you're our guest, you take a stab at the first question: Are the Kings serious contenders for the post-season? (Please watch the colorful language!)
RudyKelly: Serious contenders? Heck no. (You're welcome.) They're probably going to make the playoffs, as Quisp will tell you, but they're nowhere near the level of Chicago, San Jose, or Vancouver. The Kings don't have the scoring depth or defensive depth that either of those teams do, and they don't have the top-end offensive and goaltending talent that Vancouver has. They could theoretically get up to that level with another top-6 forward and a top-4 defenseman but that's unlikely to happen. Right now the Kings are looking at a pat on the back type post-season, which is something we all would have been ecstatic about at the beginning of the year.
Quisp: So this is like '99, where we are happy to be there and someone runs our goalie and O'Donnell goes insane and we fold? My problem is, I don't really know what "serious contenders" means. I think it means, established contenders or favorites or something, in which case, obviously they are not in that club. However, assuming they qualify, it's impossible for them to choke. Also, there's the fact that, once you get past the first round, anything is possible. If there's one team I don't want to play in the 1st round, it's Vancouver. Everyone else, including Chicago and San Jose, I like our chances. I'm sure that seems crazy re Chicago, but my feeling is, they have put all their eggs in one basket on a level unprecedented in human history; they must dismantle their team this summer, and I think they know this and will freak out. Also, Hossa is one step away from the booby hatch. If he loses in the finals to Pittsburgh this year, that's it for him. It's One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. Or Mommy Dearest.
Connie: I definitely think the Kings are "contenders" but I wouldn't go so far as to say they're "serious" contenders. I see it as a miracle for them to have the ability to complete a full season without choking in the second half! For them to be where they are and still look strong is something I've been waiting for for a looooooooooooooong time.
Perhaps I need to go for the waterproof mascara when they've locked in a playoff seed. But I'm going a little sideways here; back on track. So none of us see the Kings as "serious contenders," but can they become that by adding a piece at the trading deadline? Is this necessary? Personally, the only thing I'd be willing to give up right now are a few picks and perhaps a fresh prospect or two... maybe even throw in a one Mr. Alexander Frolov. Why give up roster players when the team is gelling so well right now?
[everyone twiddles thumbs while Rudy plays hockey]
RudyKelly: (Sorry, I had hockey.) I'm not sure. The Kings could become serious cup contenders if they were to trade for a certain Russian winger that makes me weak in the knees, I guess, but it's not going to do much good if they give up 2 roster players to get him. I think a more pressing need for the Kings this season is another defenseman. The Kings need another defender to play with Jack Johnson more than they need another winger, in my opinion, and getting one of those would lead them deeper into the playoffs than a Kovalchuk would. The Kings should really go for Sheldon Souray, I'd offer Edmonton Brayden Schenn and Thomas Hic- oh, Souray broke his wrist and is out? Sorry, Edmonton, I guess we'll have to hold onto Schenn. (That oughta drop the population in Edmonton a little bit.)
I don't think Alexander Frolov is going anywhere this season, by the way, and I'll thank you to keep your paws off him. No team's going to want him in a trade where the Kings get a good player since he's a UFA after this season. Maybe Lombardi could trade for a left winger and then flip Fro to another contender for prospects, but ultimately I think he'll hold onto Fro because of his defensive capabilities.
Quisp: I agree regarding Frolov. If he's affordable, he is an excellent stealth top-six guy lurking on the third line. I also agree that it makes no sense to trade for Kovalchuk and give up two forwards from the pool of Brown, Stoll, Frolov, Handzus or Williams. I'm starting to wonder if Waddell going to the Kings game, Waddell telling IK and his agent that he's about to be traded "by the weekend", all the rest of this posturing, isn't just smoke and mirrors (like the cut-outs of fake family members that the kid puts in the windows in Home Alone). If IK's contract demands are to be believed, the guy is looking for a $130MM contract over 12 years, which makes the Vincent Lecavalier contract seem like Dustin Brown's. I don't think anyone in the league will do it. Maybe the GMs smell the stench of loserdom all over Waddell's bluff and just refuse to go anywhere near IK until 7/1 unless the price in traded players comes down, at which point IK will either (a) take a ten year $7.5MM cap hit contract, or (b) take his ball and go home to the KHL.
Connie: I'm inclined to think Kovy's given the KHL more than one consideration considering the two words better than "free food," which are "tax free," exist in that part of the world. We currently have no idea what these supposed teams in contention are offering up to Waddell right now, but whatever it is, I'm sure nothing will be as enticing as what he could potentially garner at the trade deadline. At that point, the picture is clearer about who is going to be in the playoffs, who's completely out, and who is fighting for that last spot. I don't see much desperation in terms of deals going down right now so I wouldn't be surprised if Waddell just waited until the last minute of the deadline before making the move.
For the Kings, I don't see an immediate need for Kovalchuk since it's not like they're toiling in the standings. I'd tell Dean to just let it go if other teams are willing to give up the farm for this guy. I'm sure he'll score a good number of goals with whatever team he ends up with, but doesn't this go entirely against the team mentality Lombardi is trying to build? Tattoo of the Kings logo on Kovalchuk's rear-end? Not in this lifetime. I'd be willing to part with Brayden Schenn, Oscar Moller, or Colton Teubert. One of these guys with... Teddy Purcell. I think that's more then generous for a player who has zero loyalties.
If by some miracle Kovalchuk is still here this summer I wouldn't consider paying him more than $7 million per year and he can't have a no-trade either. I don't want to offer up a long-term contract to give this guy security that he isn't willing to give to anyone besides his agent.
RudyKelly: Yeah, I kind of get the feeling Waddell fancies himself this great businessman except everyone thinks he's retarded. Like, I think he's telling Dean, "Oh, you better throw in Simmonds, I got Boston on the line and they have a really good offer," so Dean hangs up and then Waddell tells Peter Chiarelli, "Oh, Dean's throwing in Simmonds, better up the ante!" and then it's going to end up with everyone backing off and Kovy getting traded for Wade Redden. He's dumb.
I would offer Kovy what Eric Staal got: $8.25 million dollars a year. That's about where Kovy is, not quite at the elite level with Crosby and Malkin but still a very, very good player. That means the Kings' top 2 players will earn $15 million, with Doughty probably adding another $6 million a year down the road. That's fair, I think, and I don't think it'll hinder the Kings too much down the road assuming we're not retarded with the little deals.
Of course, that still leaves the question of, "Should the Kings trade for Kovalchuk at all?" What would you guys trade for him?
Quisp: For a signed Kovalchuk, $7.5MM cap hit over ten years (salary starting at $11MM and tapering down to nothing), I would offer Jarrett Stoll, Colten Teubert and a 1st (they can have Teddy Purcell or Trevor Lewis if that sweetens the pot for them, which it doesn't really). I think giving up Stoll right now actually hurts the Kings this season, though that can be fixed by free agency over the summer (or by Brayden Schenn or Andrei Loktionov). Stoll's a player we traded for specifically because of his playoff chops. The argument that IK is worth Stoll plus Johnson and a 1st (for example) I think would normally be solid, except that very few teams who can afford to pay Kovalchuk right now, and I don't think there's a willing partner who has a package like Stoll/Johnson to offer. I read this morning somewhere (TSN?) that the Kings, Philly and Boston are the remaining teams "in contention." My guess is that the Kings are out of it now, but that Waddell is keeping them alive in the media (The Weekend at Bernie's gambit) because if the Kings are out, and it's just Philly (who doesn't have the cap room to re-sign) and Boston (can't imagine they want to give up anything good), then Waddell is screwed.
Connie: I'm more inclined to deal prospects than roster plays given the current spot the Kings are in. At the same time, I'm sure Waddell is looking for a return of players who can play now. I.E. I don't want to play Waddell's game. So, no Rudy, as of right now I wouldn't trade for Kovalchuk. I'm going conservative in my mindset for this one.
RudyKelly: Yeah, I'm not inclined to trade for him at all, to be honest. I think Stoll is too important to trade since he'll be our defensive ace once Handzus leaves. Johnson I can live without but that's because I don't like him. The Kings are at an extremely important juncture right now and they only get one shot at it. If they overpay in prospects and cap space they're pretty much crippling their chance at going on a meaningful run and I'd much rather make sure we hold onto Kopitar and Doughty than sign anyone else.
At the same time, the Kings do need one more top player and I love Ilya more than I'll love my own son (he'll probably suck), so... I don't know. Someone wake me when it's over.
Connie: Why would Handzus leave???
Rudy Kelly: He's going off to a special place, where he'll have plenty of room to run around and stare awkwardly at things.
Quisp: [overlapping with above] I think he means after next season, when he's UFA. Depending on what we look like up the middle this time next year, Handzus is vulnerable. I love Handzus. But at some point Schenn and Loktionov, not to mention Moller and Richardson, oh and Nolan, are going to make having $7MM worth of third line centers a bit of a problem. I don't know which of Stoll or Handzus leaves first though. There's a very real chance I will hate Kovalchuk by the time all this plays out. He's really starting to get on my nerves.
Connie: Seriously, this discussion could go on forever and we're starting to get off track since we're looking at how he could potentially effect the entire team beyond this year rather than what would happen with his initial arrival. Is there something we haven't covered with this situation?
Quisp: But that's the thing. It's not off-track. How it impacts the roster next year and the year after is exactly the point. At least, I think it's the point weighing most heavily on Dean Lombardi.What would happen with his (Kovalchuk's) initial arrival depends entirely on who is absent, and to follow that decision tree you have to look at The Legendary Boxes of Deano not just for this year but into the foreseeable future.
As far as whether or not there's something we haven't covered, the main thing -- the elephant in the room -- that which is really on everyone's minds, is: how was it that Teddy Purcell was supposed to be some kind of key to this season?
Connie: Well it seems like Kovalchuk isn't the only thing on our minds. I think we've hashed out enough for this round! Thanks guys!