BUFFALO -- The market could finally be heating up for Ilya Kovalchuk.
But the Senators likely won’t be a player.
While Senators GM Bryan Murray called Atlanta GM Don Waddell recently to see what the Thrashers are looking for in return for the star winger, it would appear Ottawa is going to be on the outside looking in.
Ottawa has only about $500,000 (all terms US) in cap space and the only way Murray could get involved is if the Thrashers were willing to take Jonathan Cheechoo’s $3.5-million cap hit. That won’t happen.
Waddell has entered serious discussions with a group of teams.
Sources say the Kings, Devils, Bruins, Blackhawks, Rangers and Flyers are all in the mix to some extent. The Kings, Devils and ’Hawks are considered the most serious contenders.
The indications are Waddell has one deal he can stomach, but would like to get more because Atlanta is still in the playoff race.
Cowen on board
The Senators signed D Jared Cowen, the club’s No. 1 pick (No. 9 overall) in the 2009 NHL draft, to an entry-level contract. After an impressive camp, Cowen has been with the WHL’s Spokane Chiefs and played a limited role for Team Canada at the world juniors.
“He’s a big kid that we think has a great future in the NHL,” said Murray. “We certainly liked his progress this year and we feel that Jared has a chance coming to camp next year to (make the team). We’re hoping with this signing that gives him that opportunity and incentive to do what he has to do for the balance of his junior career.”
While Cowen didn’t play a shift in one game during the world juniors, the Senators hope the experience was helpful.
“I thought he was a little short- changed for the balance (of that tournament), but coaches have to make decisions who to play and I think it was a good lesson for him more than anything else,” said Murray.
Cowen said he is pleased to have the deal done.
“When you sign the first (contract), it’s nice,” said Cowen. “Hopefully, it’ll be the first of many. It took a little longer than I thought, but I kind of enjoyed (some of the process), because that was the first one. I’m pretty happy with it.” The Senators will consider sending Cowen to Binghamton if the Chiefs are eliminated from the playoffs early.
Maple leaf forever
Sabres D Tyler Myers might be going to the Olympics if he’d decided to suit up for the U.S. at the world juniors last year.
As a dual citizen of Canada and the U.S. who was born in Houston, Myers, 20, had the option, but decided to play for Team Canada because he learned the game when he moved to Calgary with his father and stepmother as a 10-year-old in 2000.
“It was a tough decision. I looked at it like, if I hadn’t made that move from Texas to Canada, I wouldn’t be where I am today,” said Myers, named the NHL’s rookie of the month for January.
“I’ve said it before, I’d probably be playing basketball and I truly do believe that. My development in Canada is the reason why I’m here and I just feel that I owe Canada that.”
THIS ’N’ THAT
Buffalo G Ryan Miller, who doesn’t answer questions about the Olympics on game day, is breaking in his new Team USA mask, that he helped design, in practice. It has a stylized American Eagle on one side and a picture of Uncle Sam flexing his muscles on the other. It has the Olympic rings on his chin. Is that allowed? The people with the Olympics protect the rights to those rings pretty tightly. Surely, they wouldn’t kick up a fuss about this? ... Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson will play for Sweden — the defending Olympic champs — in Vancouver, but he believes the club might fly under the radar. “All the pressure is going to be on Canada and Russia,” said Alfredsson. “Canada is going to be biggest favourite because it’s (on their home soil). It’s going to be a great tournament and everybody is going to be gunning for each other. The big thing is to make it to the medal round.”
The last word
Singer Carrie Underwood, who picked up her fifth Grammy award last Sunday in Los Angeles, was asked by a TV reporter whether she’ll have more trophies or will fiance Mike Fisher? “As far as trophies, probably me, they don’t really hand out trophies (in the NHL). He has a lot of plaques,” said Underwood. There is one trophy Fisher wants: The Stanley Cup.