Thursday, July 8, 2010

One Blogger's Take On Kovalchuk/Nabokov

It's way late or early depending on your schedule in what's become the hottest, most uncomfortable week of the summer. With temps climbing into triple digits and unforgiving humidity, it ain't easy. Especially for summer activities and sleep. Wherever you are, hope you're keeping cool.

Today, it will be Thursday which means three days have passed since Ilya Kovalchuk was supposed to sign. Instead, all we've gotten is smoke screen after smoke screen with the 27 year-old Russian superstar and his agent Jay Grossman playing a game similar to the biggest ego of them all known as LeBron. As fraudulent as he is with butt buddy ESPN sucking up along the way, at least we'll know where he winds up tonight.

Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for Kovalchuk who apparently is hesitant to re-sign with the Devils as was reported by NY Post's Mark Everson. For some reason, seven years $60 million from a team who traded for him at the deadline and improved already this July hasn't been enough to reel him in. While he's left the Garden State hanging, the former Thrasher has pulled the Kings back to the table. There's also stiff competition back home with the KHL's SKA St. Petersburg chasing him. However, the likelihood that he leaves the NHL for them doesn't make sense. Especially with ex-Shark goalie Evgeni Nabokov signing there for four years, $24 million.

On the subject, what a shame that such a quality netminder ran out of alternatives- opting to return home for what looks to be the end of his career. The soon to be 35 year-old played for one team in the league, helping backstop the Sharks into one of the league's elite clubs. Sure. They never quite got over the hump but it wasn't all Nabby's fault. Joe Thornton is the bigger symbol of San Jose's playoff ineptitude. In Year One, Dany Heatley didn't exactly distinguish himself during the second season. Was Nabokov part of the problem? Yes and no. While he didn't always fulfill postseason expectations, this time he got the Sharks to their first Conference Final since 2004.

A former '94 ninth round pick (219th overall), Nabby established himself as one of the better goalies in the sport. Among the accolades are a Calder, All-Rookie Team, two All-Star selections and one First All-Star Team in '07-08 when Martin Brodeur edged him for the Vezina. The career San Jose leader in almost every goalie category took part in 563 games, posting a 293-178-37 record with a 2.39 GAA, .912 save percentage and 50 shutouts. Including a splending rookie year that saw him win 32 games, Nabokov won 30-or-more half a dozen times, including 40-plus the past three seasons.

Sadly, he wasn't rewarded by any club with the Sharks opting to go in another direction by signing Antero Niittymaki. Even the goalie starved Caps passed, instead opting to stick with the kids. Amazingly, a durable goalie who's proven is out of the NHL. No matter how you slice it, that's a loss for the league. Just imagine if one of the best snipers joins him. We'd lose a very exciting player who can bring fans out of the seats. How would that look?

With even talk that Kovalchuk wants the cap strapped Rangers, all I can do is shake my head. If he really wants to win and play in the best league, either the Devils or Kings are much better fits. Each should be in the mix for the Cup. Coming to a rebuilding club like ours under intense media scrutiny would be a huge mistake. If he knows what's good for him, he'll wake up before it's too late. We already said Dac Vee Daniyah to Nabokov. Make the right decision Ilya.


Hasan said...

Yeah Nabokov leaving is kinda like Jagr a few years ago. Maybe past his prime a little but he can still play. Both returned home for one last payday I guess.

If Kovalchuk left in the prime of his career though that'd be different, but the whole Olympic thing in Sochi complicates matters a bit. Big surprise, the Kings are out again - until they're not. The sub soap opera between the Kings and Kovy is even more annoying than the main one of Kovy not signing anywhere.

Amusingly the newest rumor is Detroit getting in with a Hossa-like offer (one year at around $8 million). Fits right in with the 'Mystery X team jumps in today' part of the circle. Tomorrow we'll probably be the front-runner again, Saturday it'll be the KHL.

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