Alex Kovalev might not be singing the blues about Senators coach Cory Clouston the rest of the season.
While itís a longshot because of the high risk for any team looking at Kovalev, league sources say there is one team ó the banged-up St. Louis Blues ó interested in acquiring the disgruntled Senators winger. But the Blues donít have the cash to make a move right now.
Though he has denied making a trade request to Senators GM Bryan Murray, judging by the 37-year-old wingerís comments Friday about Clouston, it would appear Kovalev wouldnít mind getting dealt.
ďThe Blues need forward help ... badly,Ē said a league executive Saturday.
The battered and beaten Blues are without injured LW David Perron, C T.J. Oshie, C Andy McDonald and D Roman Polak. But they canít make a move until their ownership situation is settled.
Sources say there is an investor ready to put more money into the Blues. That wonít happen until Jan. 1 for tax purposes, which means the club canít afford to take on the remainder of Kovalevís $5-million (all terms US) salary for now.
Depending on Senatorsí on-ice fortunes in the next month, Murray will have to decide whether heís going to be a buyer or seller at the Feb. 28 trade deadline.
If itís the latter, Kovalev could be moved for a draft pick.
The situation with Kovalev in Ottawa reached a head last week when he was banished to the fourth line in practice Wednesday. As reported by the Sun, he complained about Clouston in a meeting with Murray.
Then, he didnít help matters Friday by telling the media he was being made a scapegoat by Clouston and didnít like being picked on. Kovalev told reporters he ďjust wanted to be left alone.Ē
Suddenly, Kovalev appeared on the top line that night with Milan Michalek and Jason Spezza in a 3-2 victory over the New Jersey Devils.
Kovalevís promotion was surprising after Cloustonís tough talk. It was shocking to see Kovalev on the ice with the Senators defending a lead in the final minutes.
However, if the Senators are going to be successful in trading Kovalev, they have to get him contributing on a consistent basis to showcase his skills to other clubs.
Clouston was forced to come to his own defence after the victory.
ďI change lines often,Ē said Clouston, who is also under the microscope. ďI thought his first couple of shifts were really good. (Juggling the lines was) something we were looking at doing depending on how the game was going anyway. Just because a line (is used) in practice or in a game, it doesnít mean itís carved in stone. I thought (Kovalev) played well. We make such a big deal about him going onto a fourth line.
ďNick Foligno has done exactly the same thing. We expected him to be a top-six forward, he struggled early and we put him on the fourth line and heís worked himself back into position. Itís no different than Alex. No one said he was going to be there for the whole year. We need him to play well with his linemates no matter who they are.Ē
At last check, Foligno ($1.2 million), who has two goals, wasnít pulling down as big a paycheque as Kovalev and wasnít disruptive.
Make no mistake, if the Senators can make a deal with the Blues or anybody else down the road involving Kovalev, they wonít resist.