The Bird is on its' Way Out of the Nest…Soon…

Dejan Kovacevic, of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette reports the penguins are “working aggressively to trade right winger Alexei Kovalev…”Each hockey player in this league, invaribly goes through slumps during a typical season–full of ups and downs.

Alexei Kovalev, who ended an 11 game scoring streak when he scored against the Tampa Bay Lightening on Friday night, was hoping his season would be on the up after the Pittsburgh Penguins found themselves 3-0 (before last night’s loss at Florida) on what has become their most successful road trip in recent memory.

Instead, in what may be an interesting reason why Kovalev has continued to slump of late, the Pittsburgh Post Gazette has learned the Penguins are actively attempting to trade the All-Star right winger.

Apparently “two sources, one close to the team and another close to Kovalev, confirmed that there are active talks between General Manager Craig Patrick and as many as five teams- the Dallas Stars, New York Islanders, New York Rangers, Philadelphia Flyers, and Toronto Maple Leafs- in an attempt to bet a deal done, possibly before the All-Star break begins Feb. 1.”

When asked about an impending deal, Patrick, as always declined comment on personnel matters. “People call us about our players. But that’s all…People call all the time , but they have for a long time. People are calling, for sure.”

Kovalev, the third leading scorer in the NHL this season, “is making $4.6 million in the final year of a two-year contract and can become an restricted free agent in July. He is also arbitration eligible and likely to be awarded a salary of $7 million or more next season. In July 2004 he can become an unrestricted free agent and offer his services to the highest bidder.”

The Penguins player payroll currently stands at a little more than $31 million, which ranks 22nd of the league’s 30 teams.

“Those close to the current situation believe that the Penguins are not seeking prospects or cash for Kovalev, but rather an established player or players. THe organization’s most glaring need at the major league-level is for defensemen, particuarly those adept at handling and moving the puck.”

In other news from the Post Gazette…

** The LA Kings are another team that could follow the Senators and Sabres into bankruptcy if the “financial structure” of the NHL is not improved. Tim Leiweke, team president, said that, despite having what appears to be the league’s dream senario, the franchise has lost more than $100 million since billionaire Philip Anschutz bought the team in 1995.”

(guins note–Ahhem…still think we don’t need a hard cap??)

**Luc Robitaille was scratched for the first time in his career on Thursday.

** The coyotes have lost a league high 269 man games to injury.

**Lastly, with the increase attention being paid to the neutral zone infractions and clutching and grabbing this year, the goals per game total has only increased from 5.2-5.3.

Please respond to what you think the Pens may get from whomever in a deal for Kovie…now is the time to sound off!! I’d appreciate your views.