L.A. out of Kovy race; Chara, B's begin talks

July, 5, 2010

As we await Ilya Kovalchuk's decision, which presumably will be announced by his agent, Jay Grossman, via Twitter on Monday, we have a few notes to pass along.

As first reported by Los Angeles Times veteran columnist Helene Elliott on Sunday evening, the Kings are out of the running for Kovalchuk.

"We made our best offer -- he said no and we get on with our team," Kings GM Dean Lombardi reiterated to ESPN.com via e-mail Monday.

Although I truly believed that Kovalchuk would end up in Los Angeles, I can't say I'm surprised the Kings would not break the bank for him. Lombardi had hinted as much to ESPN.com at the draft in Los Angeles. The Kings really, really wanted Kovalchuk, but not at a price that would prevent them from building a Stanley Cup contender around him. In other words, I think anything north of $8 million per year would have been too much for Lombardi.

So, it is now likely between the New York Islanders and New Jersey Devils, the only other two NHL clubs whose GMs have confirmed to ESPN.com that they are interested in Kovalchuk. Of course, there is also the KHL, with Alexander Medvedev's SKA St. Petersburg club showing interest; but I would be shocked if Kovalchuk went overseas at this point in his career.

Elsewhere on Monday:

• The Boston Bruins and the agent for towering captain Zdeno Chara have begun preliminary talks on a contract extension.

"Yes, I've had preliminary talks, and we expect to meet again,'' Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli told ESPN.com on Monday.

Agent Matt Keator confirmed the same in an e-mail to ESPN.com.

Chara has one year left on his deal at $7.5 million. It's not unusual for teams to want to start talks with core stars a year out. As I wrote last week, the San Jose Sharks are planning to also approach Joe Thornton this summer.

• Bob Murray, the agent for Bill Guerin and Lee Stempniak, said at 10 a.m. ET that all was quiet on his end. Ditto for Rick Curran, the agent for Alexei Ponikarovsky. All three unrestricted free agent wingers scored more than 20 goals this past season.

Pierre LeBrun

ESPN Senior Writer




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