The Toronto Sun today brings us this amusing piece from Damien Cox about the situation with our Czar.
The laughter begins with just the title. "Is Kovalchuk Burke's Type?" Right from the get-go we see that this isn't going to be journalism, but Leaf fanboy fantasies about getting Kovy to play in the blue and white.
After a quick rehash of the situation we all know so well, Cox goes on to insult Atlanta and Sun Belt Hockey by association, suggesting hypothetically that anyone the Spirit Group may sell to would "sensibly give up on Atlanta." He tries to hide his anti-Non-Canadian bias by suggesting that those hypothetical new owners would move the team to Kansas City.
Nicely done, eh.
The one decent point he does make is that Kovalchuk is going to have an opportunity to really showcase himself at the Olympics.
We have all seen what the Czar does when he takes to the international stage to play for is country. If he has a typical Kovalchuk international tournament during the Olympics and wins Gold for Mother Russia, he's not going to be in any hurry to sign a contract when he comes back from Vancouver, and teams throughout the NHL and KHL are going to be salivating.
Knowing Grossman's strategy of holding out until the midnight hour (which, again, is October when the season starts, not March 3 or July 1), Waddell should consider the gamble of trading Kovy at the trade deadline and picking up negotiations again on July 1 if his new team can't sign him before then.
Grossman had Kovy wait through training camp and into the beginning of the season before signing a new contract when he was an RFA. Waddell caved then. Grossman and Kovy have no reason to believe it won't be the same this time. They have no incentive whatsoever to sign before October unless they get absolutely everything they want out of DW and the ASG.
On the other hand, Kovy loves Atlanta and doesn't want to leave. He wants to spend the rest of his playing career here then retire and move back to Russia. That means that when the rest of the league comes into play, DW has a big advantage since his team is the only one located in the city Kovy calls home.
Keep in mind that there is a trade freeze during the Olympics. I believe it starts on February 12 and ends on March 1. The trade deadline is March 3. That leaves three days of frantic trading for half the league's GMs trying to shore up their playoff chances and the other half trying to bolster their futures.
If DW can make a trade for Kovy during those three days and bring in one or two good, young roster players and a couple of high draft picks or very good prospects, he could call that a good return. If that trade were to happen with a team that cannot hope to resign Kovy next year because of cap issues (Washington, Chicago, Rangers, etc.) all the better since it makes it almost certain that DW gets another shot at negotiating a contract to bring him back home.
The best case scenario for Waddell would be that Kovy wins Russia the Gold and takes MVP honors in Vancouver and every playoff bound team comes calling during March 1-3 and offers the moon. He pulls the trigger on one of those trades and brings in several high draft picks, a couple of roster players, and a good prospect. Kovy plays in the playoffs for that other team, then doesn't sign a new contract with them because a) he doesn't want to live there, b) they can't afford him under the cap, and c) Grossman will hold out with them just like he is with DW. On July 1 (or earlier if DW can work out trading one of those draft picks back to the other team for Kovy's negotiating rights), he re-opens negotiations right where they left off. By October 1, DW works out a deal and Kovy rejoins the team along with the guys for which he was traded back in March.