Kovalchuk: 'I like it here … we'll see'

October, 18, 2009

ELMIRA, Ontario -- Just a quick update on the Ilya Kovalchuk situation.

While the Thrashers captain and his team were here Sunday practicing at the Dan Snyder Memorial Arena in honor of their fallen teammate, Kovalchuk's contract talks were brought up after the skate.

When asked about how the Thrashers were cautiously optimistic that he would soon sign a contract extension, the superstar winger answered: "Hopefully. I like it here. And I think they did a lot of good things during the offseason to sign some guys and I feel it's the best team we've ever had. They took some good steps. So we'll see. My agent is talking to them. I just want to focus on hockey."

Kovalchuk, slated to be an unrestricted free agent July 1, challenged the Thrashers' front office this past summer to show that the team was headed in the right direction. Pretty hard to argue with the kind of start the team has had so far this season.

Kovalchuk met with his agent, Jay Grossman, on Friday in New Jersey, and the agent also met with Thrashers GM Don Waddell. Another meeting between Grossman and Waddell is expected to take place within the next two weeks, a meeting that could potentially produce an answer from Kovalchuk: yes or no. The Thrashers don't want this to drag on all season long; they lived through that with Marian Hossa two years ago.

I asked Kovalchuk about the rumors coming out of Russia, where a few KHL teams are believed to be interested. He essentially dodged the question.

"We'll see … I like it here, and hopefully we'll figure out something," he said.

Pierre LeBrun

ESPN Senior Writer


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