Senators' Kovalev untradeable: NHL execs

Three NHL insiders say Senators winger Alex Kovalev would be all but impossible to trade given his...

Three NHL insiders say Senators winger Alex Kovalev would be all but impossible to trade given his contract and health status. (ERROL MCGIHON, QMI Agency File Photo)

BRUCE GARRIOCH, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:43 PM ET

Senators fans aren’t likely to get their wish when it comes to Alex Kovalev this summer.

While the winger took it on the chin in last Sunday’s Ottawa Sun You Be The Boss poll in which 71% of respondents wanted the Russian dealt, three NHL executives doubt it’s going to happen.

After all, having a one-year, $5-million (all terms US) contract, being 37 years old and coming off surgery for a torn ACL and being generally inconsistent in 2009-10 ... there just aren’t going to be too many suitors.

“I don’t think anybody is going to want him,” a league executive said Saturday. “Sure, they could try to see if anybody wants to take him, but he’s a high-risk, low-reward player. There’s not a big market for those types of players.”

Kovalev, who was signed to a two-year, $10-million deal as an unrestricted free agent last July, was one of the Senators’ most puzzling players before he suffered a knee injury that forced him to miss the playoffs. He had 18 goals and 31 assists in 77 games, but always left fans wanting more.

“I don’t think they could trade him,” said another league executive. “He suffered a knee injury, he’s an older player, he makes a lot of money and by the sounds of it, I don’t think he’s going to retire, is he?

“The book on him, always, in the last two or three years, was that if you hit him, he was going to pack it in. He’s got that element to his character and the older he gets, the more of the chance there is he’s going to pack it in. There are some nights you wonder if he’s just going through the motions.”

There is a belief that Kovalev might be motivated by the fact he’s going into the final year of his contract. He would be well-served to have a good start with the Senators to make himself a marketable commodity at next year’s trade deadline.

He stated after he signed with the Senators last summer he’d like to finish his career with the Canadiens. The Habs offered Kovalev a two-year, $9-million deal on July 1 last summer, but they pulled the deal off the table when he waffled.

“I’m not sure they’d take him back,” said another executive with a laugh.

“Look what they’ve been able to do without him. I just don’t see him fitting in there anymore. The Senators are going to have to hope he works hard this summer to recover from the injury and comes back motivated.”

McGuire to Bolt?

Sources say TSN analyst Pierre McGuire could be the frontrunner to take over the GM’s duties of the Lightning. While the Bolts have held talks with Red Wings VP Steve Yzerman, indications are he only has mild interest. Sources say the Bolts have also spoken with Kings assistant GM Ron Hextall and possibly Nashville assistant GM Paul Fenton. McGuire, a former assistant GM and player personnel director of the Hartford Whalers, was a finalist to become the Wild’s GM last summer — a job that Chuck Fletcher wound up getting.

bruce.garrioch@sunmedia.ca


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