Kukla's Korner Hockey
by George Malik on 06/17/12 at 03:58 AM ET
The New York Post’s Larry Brooks offers takes on three very specific topics this morning, focusing on the New York Rangers’ attempts to win the Rick Nash sweepstakes, the high likelhood of Alex Radulov cashing in with CSKA Moscow instead of remaining in the NHL, and the equally high likelihood that New Jersey Devils forward Ilya Kovalchuk was dealing with a significant to severe back injury during the Stanley Cup Finals.
Regarding the first topic, Brooks says that the Rangers, and other teams, have a bit of a conundrum on their hands in estimating Nash’s value, especially given that Blue Jackets GM Scott Howson asked for the moon, stars and sea in exchange for Nash prior to the trade deadline:
The question within that question is how much Nash, whose average season yields 35 goals and 31 assists, has been weighed down trying to carry an inferior franchise through the entirety of a nine-year NHL career in which his team has made the playoffs once, only to be swept?
Up to a half-dozen teams — including Philadelphia, San Jose, Carolina, perhaps Toronto and perhaps Boston — are in the race, but the Rangers could end the derby in a heartbeat by agreeing to send [Rangers prospect Chris] Kreider to Columbus. There is less chance of that occurring than of Sean Avery returning to the team as an assistant coach. The Won’t Miss Kid from Boston College is a negotiation stopper. So is [Ryan] McDonagh. So, almost certainly, is [Derek] Stepan.
[Brandon] Dubinsky (and his $4.2 million cap hit) has to go the other way. The immediate unknowns are whether Sather would yield on Hagelin or Artem Anisimov; whether Del Zotto would be made available even if the Blueshirts aren’t able to sign Justin Schultz, the Wisconsin defenseman who can become a free agent next week; whether Dylan McIlrath or J.T. Miller is on the table.
Howson will attempt to create an open bazaar leading up to Friday’s first-round of the Entry Draft in Pittsburgh. But it is possible the auction could bleed into July, past the opening days of free agency, when Zach Parise and Ryan Suter declare and Schultz signs.
Future moves would be restricted in taking on this contract commitment to Nash, but even more so with a new collective bargaining agreement under which cap likely is to be recalculated and regulations likely are to be restrictively redefined (e.g., terms limits and front-loading) beginning next season.
Brooks goes on to talk about the Rangers’ moves to come over the next couple of seasons, but as that might not interest you, here’s his take on Alex Radulov, whos CSKA Moscow’s sponsor, Russia’s second-largest oil and natural gas giant in Rosneft, may or may not have paid around $8 million to Salavat Yulaev Ufa simply in order to acquire the opportunity to sign as the KHL’s version of a restricted free agent…
Alexander Radulov is believed on his way back to the KHL in light of an offer from Sergei Fedorov’s CSKA club that considering tax implications, we’re told, would make him the world’s highest-paid hockey player.
To summarize: None other than Vladimir Putin decided that CSKA needed to reclaim its status as a big-market powerhouse in a Moscow market bizarrely bereft of big-spending teams, so as CSKA’s management was in flux (Slava Fetisov left the team in disgust at the KHL All-Star Game, during Alex Medvedev’s “state of the KHL” speech) this past season, Putin decided that Rosneft would sponsor the club just as Gazprom (Russia’s #1 oil and natural gas company) sponsors SKA St. Petersburg, and after a middling season, CSKA brought in Sergei Fedorov as their GM to spend the petro-dollars CSKA can now access.
There’s no telling whether CSKA had to pay that full 260 million Rubles that Salavat Yulaev had demanded—because Rosneft declined to reveal to Sovetsky Sport, Sport-Express, Championat, Sportbox or anyone else what they paid—but they probably sent a couple million dollars toward a team subsidized by the province of Bashkortostan, and if they can afford that kind of money, they can easily spend $7 or $8 million nearly tax-free bucks toward Radulov to entice him to return “home.”
And regarding Kovalchuk?
The regret regarding the Stanley Cup Finals is Ilya Kovalchuk’s back injury deprived the Devils of the club’s most singular, dynamic weapon against the Kings. It’s not as if the Devils are unique in dealing with a significant injury to a significant player. The Canucks had to deal with issues that eliminated Ryan Kesler as a factor in the 2011 defeat to the Bruins. It’s just unfortunate that, if for nothing else but the sake of entertainment value, the most explosive and compelling player on either side was so diminished.
Again, following the Russian papers over the past couple of months, I’ve read various suggestions that Kovalchuk had some sort of inflammatory issue with his lower back, if not a herniated disc, and I would imagine that at some point there will be confirmation that, despite Don Cherry’s protestations to the contrary, Kovalchuk was not in fact mailing it in.
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