Martin, Kovalchuk could be in final days with Devils


The Devils are not doing anything about enticing their top defenseman, Paul Martin, away from unrestricted free agency.

The playoffs open in two weeks, and, historically, the Devils have not negotiated with their upcoming UFAs once the second season starts. Heck, historically, they do not do much bargaining with them during the regular season.

There is still time, if he is so inclined, for general manager Lou Lamoriello to convince star winger Ilya Kovalchuk and Martin to eschew unrestricted free agency. Even after the playoffs, there will be time to talk contracts before July 1, and Devils such as Jamie Langenbrunner, Brian Gionta (before leaving) and Bryce Salvador have re-signed that way.

But most times with the Devils, if players are not re-signed by New Year’s, they walk on July 1.

Kovalchuk, the NHL’s reigning third star of the week, has taken over as the biggest fish for the Devils to creel, making $7.5 million and surely expecting more as an unrestricted free agent. He turned down a long-term deal offering $10 million per season from the Thrashers, though he was long ready to leave that team.

Before Kovalchuk’s arrival on Feb. 4, Martin was their biggest UFA question mark from the start of the season. Their No. 1 defenseman, making $4.5 million this season, Martin will surely command that and more in a long-term deal. There have been, according to sources, no substantive talks.

Martin has endured an injury-ruined season, suffering a broken arm on Oct. 27 in Pittsburgh. He followed the team’s advice to allow the fracture to knit in a cast, without surgery, and when it didn’t weld properly, surgery and hardware were required.

Even then, his recovery took longer than expected, and it cost him his top-two defenseman spot on the U.S. Olympic team that came so, so close to winning the gold medal in Vancouver. Martin said he will not hold that disappointment against the Devils, who have a habit of electing the conservative medical approach.

7 Responses to Martin, Kovalchuk could be in final days with Devils

  1. number15 says:

    the KHL is apprently rerady to offer Kovalchuk near what he wants…. and no NHL team would be crazy enough to give

    the Russian league could be appealing to Kovalchuk considering he is Russian. Why not play there and earn more money on the side…. right?

    ……………though i have a feeling Kovalchulk will in the end accept a lesser deal similar to the one Atla offered at 10 million-per but for maybe 6-7 years.

    its a bluff… he just wanted to leave Atlanta

    that my view

  2. hockey_lover says:

    Yeah I think he wanted out of Atlanta. They could have offered him the max contract (20%) at whatever term he wanted, and he still would have left.

  3. cam7777 says:

    There are teams that can easily afford him.  St.Louis made a pitch for him, and they can easily fit him in next year.  If I was to take a guess, I would say the Blues or the Kings will land Kovalchuk.  Either way:

    Ilya Kovalchuk (10.0) – Andy McDonald (4.7) – Brad Boyes (4.0)
    Patrik Berglund (1.247) – T.J. Oshie (1.275) – David Backes (2.5)
    David Perron (2.5) – Alexander Steen (3.0) – _____UFA_________ 
    Brad Winchester (0.5) – Jay McClement (1.45) – B.J. Crombeen (0.85)

    Cam Janssen / D.J. King (0.6)

    Eric Brewer (4.25) – Erik Johnson (4.0)
    Barret Jackman (3.6) – Alex Pietrangelo (3.2)
    Ian Cole (0.9) – Mike Weaver (1.75)

    Chris Mason (3.0) – Ty Conklin (1.3)

    CAP HIT – 56 million

    Basically, just by not signing Kariya and Tkatchuk, they can afford Kovalchuk. 

    Or in Los Angeles:

    Ilya Kovalchuk (10.0) – Anze Kopitar (6.8) – Ryan Smyth (6.25)
    Dustin Brown (3.175) – Brayden Schenn (3.1) – Justin Williams (3.5)
    Alexander Frolov (3.25) – Jarrett Stoll (3.6) – Wayne Simmonds (0.822)
    Raitis Ivanans (0.85) – Michael Handzus (4.0) – Oscar Moller (0.875)

    Drew Doughty (3.475) – Rob Scuder (3.4)
    Jack Johnson (1.425) – Matt Greene (2.9)
    Peter Harrold (0.583) – Matt Drewiskie (0.6)

    Jonathan Quick (1.8) – Erik Ersberg (0.75)

    CAP HIT – 61.1 million. 

    Now, a lot of that is bonus cushion space, but it seems to me the Kings will have two options if they want to sign Kovalchuk – 1.) don't resign Frolov, or 2.) trade Handzus for no return (may have to throw in a prospect to make it work).  I would choose option two.  Perhaps New Jersey can even accomadate:

    To NJD: Handzus, Loktionov
    To LAK: rights to Kovalchuk

    Whatever the case is, he won't have to go to Russia to get 10 million dollars. Someone will spend that knowing the cap will increase by 10 million over the course of the next 5 years or so.

  4. futurebruin says:

    You think the Bruins could somehow manage to fit him in?  With forward, defense, and Murray's buyouy coming off the books after this year, they have 10.898 totaled.  That shoudl be enough to fit Kovie, right?

  5. cam7777 says:

    They have their own resigns to look into though.  Let me see:

    Ilya Kovalchuk (10.0) – Marc Savard (4.0) – Milan Lucic (4.1)
    Marco Sturm (3.5) – Patrice Bergeron (4.75) – Brad Marchand (0.822)
    Blake Wheeler (2.5) – David Krejci (3.75) – Michael Ryder (4.0)
    Shawn Thornton (0.65) – Vladimir Sobotka (0.75) – Steve Begin (0.85)

    Zdeno Chara (7.5) – Marc Stuart (2.5)
    Dennis Wideman (3.875) – Matt Huwnick (1.425)
    Johnny Boychuk (0.75) – Andrew Ference (2.25)

    Tim Thomas (5.0) – Rask (1.3)

    CAP HIT – 65 million

    Chia will have to move some major salary for nothing if he hopes to fit Kovalchuk in.  THat doesnt' even include the likely NHL ready player they will probably draft with the Leafs pick.  Add another 3 million + there.  Even if you bury Ryder, and trade Wideman for nothing, and replace their roster spots with 500k guys, you're still 2 million over the cap, and have no extras on the roster.

  6. number15 says:

    its true, he does not need to go to Russia to get 10 million. Thats not the problem. The problem is that he wants a 10 year deal worth an average of 10 million per.… Most teams would back off after hearing that

    I mean yeh players have gotten 10+ year deals but they usually take less money to do so. Forexample, Hossa, Zetterberd etc.. they will be getting very little on the second half of the deal. Kovalchulk wants an average of 10 million!

    i guess he is still young, yeh though

  7. futurebruin says:

    Hmm, it does look to be a little difficult.  The problem for the Bruins, at least to me, not only seems to be the amount of dead weight in salary they're currently carrying, but also the poor class of FA's this year.  I've benn suggesting for a while that they should sign a guy like Marleau, but I'm not sure he'll leave San Jose.  Your suggestion of trading for Setoguchi was something I personally never thought of and it was a good idea, but I think he may be in the same boat.  Kovalchuk is the only real star available this summer that probably won't remain with their current teams.  Any other suggestions?

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