55° Good Morning
55° Good Morning

Ilya Kovalchuk, Lee Stempniak and the Islanders' offense

 Our first full week in business, so let's get down to business.

-- Ilya Kovalchuk may become a Devil this week -- no, really. The Bergen Record's Tom Gulitti wrote on Saturday that Devils GM Lou Lamoriello is confident that the 15-year, $100-million contract the Devils submitted to the NHL over the weekend will satisfy the league, and it will satisfy Kovalchuk as well -- he reportedly set a deadline late last week to get something signed or he would head to Russia's KHL.

Will it satisfy the Devils? The $6.66-million cap hit -- yes, you read that right, and there's no doubt that the Devils and "666" ended up together on purpose, a little bit of humor from Lamoriello -- isn't so far off from the $6-million cap charge from the rejected 17-year, $102-million deal, but it would put the Devils $3.6-million over the salary cap for this season.

The easiest way to start getting under the cap would be for Lamoriello to trade Dainius Zubrus ($3.4-million cap hit), the oft-injured and often underachieving veteran. Zubrus has three years left at that $3.4-million cap hit and he hasn't hit 20 goals since 2006-07; it doesn't appear he'd be either a good fit on the Islanders or the sort of player (aging, expensive) Garth Snow would want.

Jamie Langebrunner, with one year at a $2.8-million hit left, is also rumored to be on the trading block. That would be a head-scratcher, even though he's 35. Langenbrunner is the Devils captain and respected in their locker room; if he were offered, one would think Snow would definitely investigate what it would take to acquire a player with something to offer on the ice and in the dressing room.

-- Lee Stempniak, the highest-scoring free agent left on the market, will re-sign with the Coyotes, according to The Arizona Republic. Stempniak had 28 goals, 14 with the Coyotes in just 18 games after being acquired from the Leafs. The deal is for a modest $1.75-million cap hit over two years.

Stempniak is 27 and he clearly overestimated his value in a very tight market for second-tier free agents. Islanders fans may be screaming about how Snow could have easily gotten Stempniak for such a price to give the Isles another scoring option up front; the Isles, as of now, have few proven scoring options behind John Tavares, Matt Moulson and Kyle Okposo; how proven those three are remains to be seen as well, given their age and lack of NHL experience.

There's no doubting the Islanders have upgraded their defense for this season. Their offense could certainly use an extra scorer or two, and the free-agent market is painfully thin, with on-the-decline types like Jonathan Cheechoo the top players available.

Old friend Mike Comrie is out there, too -- I hear he's been busy.

New York Sports