Sunday, June 6, 2010

Will Brian Burke go after Ilya Kovalchuk?

He made not be able to snare him but there is no question in my mind that the Maple Leafs will actively pursue Kovakchuk on July 1 if he doesn't re-sign with New Jersey.  This is a $100 million contract but Burke will likely be able to accommodate him.  The Leafs desperately need scoring and after giving up the farm for Phil Kessel Burke needs to get better fast. 

So is he worth it?  At 27, Kovalchuk is still considered young.  In his worst season, he scored 29 goals but he was only a rookie.  He has scored 40 or more 6 season and twice hit the 50-goal mark. This is as gifted a scorer as there is in the NHL. Players like Kovalchuk almost never become free agents.  Carolina locked in Eric Staal.  Tampa locked in Vincent Lecavalier.  Columbus locked in Rick Nash.  Philadelphia locked in Mike Richards.  Washington did the same with Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom. So yes the Leafs will be after him and so they should.  But despite the high price tag there will be many suitors including the New Jersey Devils who have exclusive negotiating rights up until July 1.

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