Devils apparent front-runners in Kovy race

July, 5, 2010

When you're having this much fun, why not drag it out another day, right?

"Ilya Kovalchuk choices have been narrowed down, details to be finalized but no announcement tonight," Kovalchuk's agent, Jay Grossman, announced via Twitter on Monday night.

The update came after the agent tweeted Monday morning that this was the day Kovalchuk would make his decision.

By "choices," Grossman means the New Jersey Devils, New York Islanders or SKA St. Petersburg of the KHL.

Several calls by to Grossman, Devils GM Lou Lamoriello and Islanders GM Garth Snow were not returned Monday. KHL president Alexander Medvedev, via a spokesman, declined to comment, as well.

Earlier Monday, the New York Post had the hockey world buzzing by reporting the Devils were on the verge of signing Kovalchuk to a six-year, $60 million deal. Newsday also reported late Monday night that the Islanders were out of the running. The Post report might have jumped the gun a little bit, but the Devils appear to the favorite -- and the only NHL team still in the hunt unless a mystery club emerges. It is possible the Devils need more time to clear out some cap space to make room for Kovalchuk.

One team that is definitely out of the Kovalchuk sweepstakes is the Los Angeles Kings. They pulled out of the race Sunday, and a source said Monday night that under no circumstance would they get back into the race for the free-agent forward at this point. They have "completely moved on," the source said.

The pressure on Lamoriello to win now is immense. The window for 38-year-old goaltender Martin Brodeur to win another championship is closing. Both are reasons you saw the Anton Volchenkov and Henrik Tallinder signings last week.

When told of the Post story earlier Monday, Brodeur told via text message that he was excited if it was indeed true. We'll find out Tuesday.

Elsewhere late Monday:

• What now for the Kings? received mixed signals on the Simon Gagne front Monday. One source said the Kings were no longer in pursuit of the Philadelphia Flyers winger, but another said Monday that the Kings were still interested. Gagne has one year left on his deal at $5.25 million.

• A Toronto Maple Leafs source said that things were quiet on the Tomas Kaberle front because of the holiday weekend but that talks would resume this week.

• The NHL Players' Association released the names of the 31 players who filed for arbitration Monday. Here's the list:

Anaheim Ducks
James Wisniewski

Atlanta Thrashers
Ben Eager
Andrew Ladd
Clarke MacArthur

Boston Bruins
Greg Campbell
Blake Wheeler

Buffalo Sabres
Tim Kennedy

Calgary Flames
Ian White

Chicago Blackhawks
Antti Niemi

Columbus Blue Jackets
Jared Boll
Anton Stralman

Dallas Stars
Fabian Brunnstrom

Detroit Red Wings
Derek Meech

Edmonton Oilers
Gilbert Brule
Jeff Deslauriers
Jean-Francois Jacques

Los Angeles Kings
Brad Richardson

New Jersey Devils
Mark Fraser

New York Islanders
Matt Moulson

New York Rangers
Daniel Girardi

Ottawa Senators
Chris Campoli
Peter Regin

Philadelphia Flyers
Daniel Carcillo

St. Louis Blues
Cam Janssen

Tampa Bay Lightning
Nate Thompson

Vancouver Canucks
Tanner Glass
Jannik Hansen
Mason Raymond

Washington Capitals
Eric Fehr
Tomas Fleischmann
Jeff Schultz

Pierre LeBrun

ESPN Senior Writer




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