Kovalchuk: I'm with the right team

LANCE HORNBY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:05 AM ET

His contract finally approved, Ilya Kovalchuk wants to show the world he's worth $100 miilion US and all the fuss the New Jersey Devils went through with the NHL to get him on board. Many see his 15-year deal as outlandish economics for a guy who has scored 50 goals twice in eight seasons, but never been part of a playoff series winner.

"I want to win the most Stanley Cups I can," Kovalchuk told the New York Post from his training base in Russia. "I have a good contract, but there have been a lot of players with good contracts who never won the Cup. I'm with the right team. New Jersey is a team with a lot of history, and I want to help them make more history.

"Scoring 50 goals is always good, but I've never won in the playoffs. I want to find out how that feels."

The next challenge for Devils' general manager Lou Lamoriello is to shed around $3 million in salary that is currently exceeding Jersey's cap space. One of the options is moving Brian Rolston and the last of his two-year deal, which represents more than $5 million, but the Bergen Record says Rolston's agent has not been approached to waive the forward's no-trade deal.

The break in the Kovalchuk impasse is good news for the Bruins and Zdeno Chara and Patrice Bergeron, who weren't proceeding with talks on long-term deals until new ground rules were established. Those talks are now expected to accelerate towards Oct. 1.

In Anaheim, there has been some movement in Bobby Ryan's stalled contract talks, with more meetings scheduled this week. Ryan didn't want to sign beyond three years, definitely not the five years at $25 million that Anaheim was urging him to take earlier in the summer. But if the Ducks reduce the term, they'll also lower the base salary.

Boom Boom and echo

Left winger and NCAA grad Blake Geoffrion could make a wonderful two-part story if he cracks the Nashville Predators this month.

The second-round draft choice from 2006 was raised near Nashville in Brentwood, Tenn., but producing a hometown star would be just half the attraction. Geoffrion would be the first fourth-generation NHLer. His father Danny played for Montreal and Winnipeg, grandfather Bernie (Boom Boom) Geoffrion was a legend with the Habs and his great grandad on his mother's side was Howie Morenz, first three-time winner of the Hart Trophy.

Ice Chips

The possible return of the NHL to Quebec City received another boost Tuesday when the provincial government said it would put up 45% of the money for a new rink, if Ottawa matches it ... Wild centre James Sheppard will be out four months after surgery for a kneecap injury stemming from an ATV accident in Vail, Col., according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune ... The Canadiens have added defensive forward Jeff Halpern on a one-year contract ... Among veterans still out of work are 38-year-old Owen Nolan, who went back to his off-season home in San Jose in hopes the Sharks would ask their former captain to be a veteran presence in a reduced role. The call hasn't come and his most recent team, the Wild, signed players such as John Madden to replace him ... Jiri Hudler has come back to the Red Wings from the KHL, while the Detroit Free Press reports four-time Cup champion Kirk Maltby must accept possible demotion to the minors as part of a proposed one-year deal ... Chicago GM Stan Bowman has added vice-president to his title ... Ex-Leaf Nik Antropov hopes to be ready for the Thrashers camp as he comes off hip surgery, while GM Rick Dudley is pumping first-round pick centre Alexander Burmistrov to make the team this year ... Mexico launches its first semi-pro league in a few days with the Aztec Eagle Warriors, Mayan Astronomers, Teotihuacan Priest and Zapotec Totems. Former Toronto Aeros GTHLer Alfonso de Alba was second overall pick to the Warriors ... Among the first goalies to arrive at Carolina's camp: ex-Leaf Justin Pogge. "I wanted to get here early and see what they want me to work on," he told the Raleigh News and Observer. "Last year I was ready for anything. I was on four different teams (including two in the AHL and one in the ECHL)" ... Ex-NHLer Kirk McKLean is the new goaltending consultant with Colorado ... New Columbus coach Scott Arniel is supervising major renovations to the Jackets' dressing room, including moving the NHL standings board to a more prominent place so his playoff-challenged club can see their daily progress.


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