A few days ago, I pondered whether or not Ilya Kovalchuk's seemingly stubborn salary demands were a self-sabotaging effort that actually limited his market value and scared away suitors. Word has come out that the Los Angeles Kings have once again said no to Kovalchuk, and the great Helene Elliot of the LA Times adds more detail -- detail that reveals that yes, Kovalchuk hasn't budged at all.
Attracted by Kovalchuk's production and electrifying style, the Kings reportedly offered him $63 million over 12 years, an annual cap hit of $5.25 million, or $84.5 million over 13 years, an annual cap hit of $6.5 million.
Several sources familiar with the situation but not authorized to talk publicly said Kovalchuk hasn't compromised on an average annual value of $10 million, close to the NHL-leading $9.538-million average Washington's Alexander Ovechkin earns in a 13-year deal.
What's interesting about the Kings offers is that the longer one had the higher cap hit. It's usually the other way around, especially since Kovalchuk would be pushing 40 at the end of that contract.
It seems rather silly that Kovalchuk won't compromise on the $10 million annual average salary value, especially if the term is heading into the double digits. If he signed a deal until he was 35 (eight years from now), then finished his career with another contract, that final contract would undoubtedly be far lower. That is, unless Kovalchuk found some miraculous cure for aging. If you combined that rationale with the fact that 12-year contracts provide a career's worth of security, it's easy to simply shake your head at how stubborn Kovalchuk is being.
Will anyone pony up an average annual salary of $10 million? I doubt the New Jersey Devils will, which means that Kovalchuk will have to give at some point (you know, the whole "negotiate" part of negotiations). Or, if he's really hell-bent on that salary, he'll be KHL bound with fellow Russian Evgeni Nabokov.
Then, there's always Option C: trick Glen Sather.