Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Helene Elliott of the Fabulous Forum,
And so Plan C — as in “consolation” — came to pass Tuesday when the Kings signed left wing Alexei Ponikarovsky for one year at $3 million plus a $200,000 signing bonus.
This is a lateral step and not a leap forward, an emergence from limbo to grab the best second-tier player available and compensate for losing the frustrating but undeniably talented Frolov and his two 30-goal seasons….
He’s not awful. You don’t score 20 goals in the NHL by being incompetent. Inconsistent? Yes. He scored six goals in 15 games in January and only two in his final 21 games.
Soft? So his reputation says despite his 6-foot-4, 220-pound build. But Lombardi likes his size enough to have pursued him at the trade deadline — and considered Ponikarovsky the best consolation prize 27 days into a free-agent market that was thin on forwards to begin with.
“So much time and energy went into this Kovalchuk thing that you’re exposed. Because it dragged on for so long and arguably has continued to drag on, we weren’t addressing other needs. It was impossible anyway,” Lombardi said. “And then you get into the problem that we are in a free-agency mode and everything is tied to this guy that you’re clearly telling the marketplace that everybody else is second fiddle.”
via Darren Dreger tweet,
(Alex) Ponikarovski agrees to deal with the LA Kings.
added 3:02pm, Kings verify signing, but no terms yet.
Day 1 of the LA Kings Ice Crew Auditions…
from Helene Elliott of the LA Times,
The Kings didn’t know the structure of the Devils’ proposal and were surprised by the spike after the second season. General Manager Dean Lombardi acknowledged that his offer, made last Thursday in his third round of talks with Kovalchuk, wasn’t in the ballpark.
He felt he couldn’t pay Kovalchuk $11.5 million in any season because that would become the starting point when he negotiates a new deal with defenseman Drew Doughty. He wouldn’t be able to afford Kovalchuk, core players and other pieces, which makes some sense.
But when will an elite free agent agree to come here for less? To come here to win, not to use the Kings as leverage to make financial history?
That’s what Kovalchuk wanted from the start: to trump countryman Alexander Ovechkin, who has a 13-year, $124-million contract with Washington. Kovalchuk will earn more than Ovechkin in six seasons, and he must love that.
Nor was the $102-million total a coincidence. Kovalchuk rejected a 12-year, $101-million offer from Atlanta before the Thrashers traded him to the Devils in February and no one thought he’d equal that. He beat it, if barely.
“...I don’t think there’s another top guy out there right now, so you’ve got to be careful about just running out there and getting a fill that we didn’t really want. So that’s what you’ve got to guard against at this point now. We’ll continue to work through it, but I don’t see anything on the horizon. But I’ve been around long enough to know that something always comes up.”
-LA Kings GM Dean Lombardi via Rich Hammond of LA Kings Insider where you can read more.
from Ken Campbell of The Hockey News,
One member of the Los Angeles Kings management team wondered how the top executives would be feeling today. No doubt GM Dean Lombardi and his lieutenants are a little on the glum side. After all, they missed out on a player some are describing as the best unrestricted free agent in history.
But the sun will rise again, as it always does in Southern California, even if it sometimes does behind a cloudy haze. And when it does, the Kings will be able to pick themselves up and dust themselves off knowing they stood by their convictions and did all the right things.
I feel bad for LA Kings fans today, and offer this consolation prize: Free admission to the Devils Cup parade in Newark next June.
-via a Greg Wyshynski tweet.
added 12:38pm, Greg clarifies his comment on Twitter.
from Helene Elliott of the Fabulous Forum,
One source familiar with the discussions said he’s 98% sure it will get done and that Kovalchuk will be a King. But in a process as bizarre as this one has been at every step, and with neither Kovalchuk’s agent nor Kings General Manager Dean Lombardi willing to comment, that 2% is too much wiggle room.
Among the issues they’re believed to be working on: payment for the 2012-13 season, a season that could be lost to a lockout, and whether the deal will include a no-trade or no-movement clause. And if there is a clause that allows him to veto a trade or specify a number of teams he’d agree to join in a trade, the two sides will have to agree on when it would kick in.
The 2012-13 issue is a real concern to players and teams. If there’s no season, players wouldn’t get paid — but any pre-agreed signing bonuses would have to be paid. Teams don’t want to pay anything if there’s no season, but players want bonuses — or, in a worst-case scenario, to lose as little salary as possible.
“I’ve had a tough three years. t was tougher mentally than it was physically. You need to have faith in yourself, and know that this isn’t going to break you.”
-Justn Williams of the LA Kings via Jason Chamberlain of the Northumberland News where you can read more on Williams.
via Nick Kypreos tweet,
A big swing in the Ilya/Kings talks. Major stumbling blocks have been rectified. A source now described it to me as “close but not done”
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