So, Lou Lamoriello is fallible after all! In what is quickly becoming the Matt Sundin story of this off season, super sniper Ilya Kovalchuk still remains unsigned. Well, that is not exactly the case, since he did have a deal with the Devils which was quickly rejected by the NHL.
This has been discussed ad infinitum but in case you’ve been hiding under a rock, Lamoriello—the Devils’ GM—signed Ilya Kovalchuk to a $102 Million, 17-year contract. The contract was done-in by the last five years of the deal which saw Kovalchuk paid $500,000 per season taking him from age 39-44.
The combination of salary and age range of the last five years made it pretty clear to the league that neither side had any intention of Kovalchuk actually playing out the term of his deal. As such, the NHL deemed their move was circumventing the CBA and rejected the deal on that basis.
So what now?
Well, there are two well talked about options: The Devils and Kovalchuk can file a grievance with the NHLPA to try an dispute the rejection, or they can try to rewrite the contract. Speaking with my colleague Michelle Kenneth (@MichelleKenneth)—the Devils beat writer—she tells me that the Devils and Kovalchuk camps have always wanted to make a deal. Moreover, she believes that they will rewrite the contract to something more palatable for the league.
If I was a betting man, I’d say there should be a new Kovalchuk announcement within the next week.
What is the right Price?
In other news, Habs’ goaltender, Carey Price, still remains unsigned. This is puzzling to a lot of people since it is pretty clear that he is the Canadiens No.1 goaltender going forward. Now it seems like people are starting to get impatient and perhaps even a little nervous.
As a restricted free agent, Price could be tabled an offer sheet, but I think that is an unlikely scenario. No, GM Pierre Gauthier simply wanted to get all his other ducks in a row before really getting down to business with the Price negotiations.
Right now, Price is the only player left for Gauthier to sign before training camp and he has approximately $4.7 million left to sign him. That should be plenty of room. Part of the hold up is likely term versus dollars i.e. Price likely wants more term and more dollars, whereas I wouldn’t be surprised if the Canadiens want the opposite.
At the end of the day, the deal will get done because it has to. I could very easily see a one to three year deal at around $2-3 million a season. That being said, Arpon Basu (@ArponBasu), of the Daily Hab-It, makes a great case for Price on a one-year deal.
Hard to argue with his logic.
The Two Randys
This week, Canadiens GM Pierre Gauthier announced the hiring of Randy Cunneyworth and Randy Ladouceur as head and assistant coach of the Hamilton Bulldogs. For those who don’t know these guys, get ready to be surprised. Cunneyworth has been an assistant coach—to the Thrashers—and has spent the last nine seasons coaching in the AHL including seven seasons with Rochester where he put up some impressive numbers and even won AHL coach of the year.
While most were upset with the departure of Guy Boucher form Hamilton, I can tell you that Cunneyworth will be a worthy replacement for him—no pun intended—and should do a good job of developing the Canadiens’ prospects.
Cunneyworth knows what it takes to win and has an excellent track record of developing young, raw talent in the AHL. His presence should help the likes of Danny Kristo, Louis Leblanc, Jarred Tinordi, and others. For people who are still upset about Boucher leaving for Tampa, know this: Cunneyworth is not a step down in coaching, for the Bulldogs.
The other Randy that came on board with Cunneyworth, is Randy Ladouceur. Older Habs addicts will remember him from his playing days with the Hartford Whalers in the 80′s. More recently, however, Ladouceur has spent a truckload of time as an assistant coach in the NHL with Carolina and Toronto, as well as plying his trade in the OHL. A seasoned assistant, Ladouceur has seen a ton of game situations, both as a player and a coach, and his experience should prove invaluable for the young Habs prospects.
The combination of these two Randys should help the Canadiens player development train to roll in the right direction.