One day I’m all for him, the next I am on the fence. I really think it has to with a combination of things. First, he is such an incredible talent. But then there is the fact that he isn’t under contract beyond this year. But then there is the fact we could sign him as a UFA. But what if another team gets his rights? Or acquires him and signs him?
Deep down, I think you need to make this move and offer him a deal you know he cannot refuse. My only worry is he walks, which is everyone’s worry.
When it’s all said and done, Ilya Kovalchuk is what this team needs. A top 5 scorer in his prime. I’m not saying we need Kovalchuk because he is good, we just literally need him. If this team sucked and had no potential, I wouldn’t do it, but this team has pieces in place. We have good goaltending, good defense, and are deep at center, something most teams can’t say.
My issue is that we have Savard locked up long term, and hopefully Chara soon, and even if that top 3 pick pans out, Savard and Chara are now old, and you are now looking for an elite center and possibly even a goalie if somehow Rask isn’t what we expect. Most teams that need help need it in many ways. The Bruins it’s simple. Goal scorers. People want to say how one player doesn’t make a difference, but it does. Marian Gaborik has scored 29 of the Rangers 135 goals, a whopping 21.4% of their total goals. Tell me he doesn’t make a difference. Also, when you have an elite scorer, teams play you different. Players are also able to play their game, versus trying to do too much. Sturm, Ryder or Wheeler, whoever is left after a trade, will no longer be option A, but option B, C and D. Adding a guy like Kovalchuk also makes players around him better.
You also have an elite scorer who you know for a FACT has chemistry with your center in Marc Savard. Even if it takes a Krejci to get a Kovy you know signed, you do it. We are deep down center and have Joe Colborne and Zach Hamill coming down the pipes. You can’t risk another team getting him or signing him, you need to be aggressive.
For all the contract talk, Atlanta is afraid to overpay and won’t go long term. For this team, all that matters is the cap hit. Sign him 10 year, 100 million what he wants, tack on some BS years and it’s all good. Cap hit +/- 7.5 million, done and done. This is also crazy marketing chance for JJ and co. No offense, Chara is the only marketable guy on this team on a national level, and even more, offense sells. This team may not win the Cup this year with Kovalchuk, but look at Pittsburgh. It’s an AHL team, good goaltending, few other solid pieces and two superstars. At some point, you need talent to win. Next year, everyone is another year older, sophomore slumps done, a potential Taylor Hall or Tyler Seguin added to your roster with Kovalchuk and BAM!
This team has had trouble scoring for years, and they have a chance to do something about it. 50 goal scorers at the age of 26 don’t grow on trees.