Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Would you do it again? Part 1 - Alex Kovalev

Boredom, sadness, anger. These are the continued emotions I have at dealing with the Sens loss and watching players like Heatley, Crosby, Thornton, etc having success in this year's playoffs. So I'm going to keep busy with a new series that gives us a chance to play hockey's version of armchair quarterback.

First - the Alex Kovalev signing.

It is a very safe argument that when Kovalev was on his game this year, he helped Mike Fisher have his best season as a Senator. He also saw time with Regin and Shannon and helped their play. He commands attention on the ice, clearing room for his centre to find open ice in the slot for one timers and rebounds. His hands are still strong and he knows how to skate and conserve energy by being in the right place at the right time.

But he was given a two year deal and he was given a lot of money. He had two points after the Olympics. He is 37 years old and just had major knee surgery (not his fault, of course). Let's think back to summer 2009 - do you think Kovalev could have been acquired on a one-year deal instead of two? Montreal had already made up their mind to move on and so it would have come down to us and whoever else pursued him. I'd like to think that Kovie would have gone for a one year deal near his beloved Montreal. Do you think that Kovalev could have been signed for $4M a year instead of $5M? Again, his bargaining power had dropped and I don't think he was a very highly sought free agent. Did we have to spend the full $5M and make him our second highest paid player?

There is also the consideration of other eligible players that we passed up. I don't want this to turn into a "we should have signed Mikael Samuelsson" thing, but did we pass up on something more important? Our hole was on defence, especially when we didn't know what we'd get from Karlsson to start the year. Could the money have been better served on a lesser forward and another defenceman, thus pushing someone like Campoli a bit harder?

Let us know - if you could do it all over again, would you still sign Alex Kovalev and would you sign him to that contract? Why?


Anonymous said...

I probably would have re-signd him but as you pointed out, for 1 year and 4 Mill...This contract is still not the end of the world as Him, Leclaire and Cheechoo all walk after this year....Thank goodness!

Anonymous said...

I don't think he would have signed here for 1 year. From what I understand, it was either Montreal or whoever else. Murray nabbed him by giving him the two years guaranteeing he'd be close to home for the forseeable future.

Lewy said...

It's a tough call. Ottawa was the only one to give him a 2-year deal, right? I think if everyone had offered him one year, he'd have returned to Montreal.

Anonymous said...

I think I'd have done it again, although as pointed out, I'd have given him $4M for two years, instead of $5M.

This off-season knee surgery will be a blessing. He's never been known for his incredible summertime work ethic, and I think this rehab will force him to stay in better shape.

Not only that, but I think his knees were bothering him near the end of the season anyway, so I'm of the opinion that we will see an all-new Kovy when he steps onto the ice at SBP for the first time this fall... like a Kovy, circa 2003.

tim said...

If Murray had offered what you suggest, Kovy would have gone elsewhere. Murray doesn't tend to pay above market value for players. And he knows what's going on. I'm sure there was no chance of landing Kovy for a $5m one-year or $4m two-year contract. Also, I'm looking forward to seeing him in the lineup next year. I mean, maybe he can teach the young guys to finish. And, I'm sorry but a second line of Mich, Fish and Kovy is awesome. I'm also convinced that if he's not gotten hurt, the Pittsburgh series would have ended differently.

GelatinousMutantCoconut said...

Kovalev actually came out and said last summer that the only reason he chose Ottawa was that they were the only club that offered a two year deal.

duff said...

What's funny is that I think we as fans judge contracts based on if we got a perceived 'good deal'. A fair deal can often seen as a bad deal just because the organization didn't get some big savings.

That being said, if we were the only team offering two years, could he have signed for less? It sounds like people are happy with him here, though, over other available UFAs.

jlynch said...

Contracts aside, yes, I would have signed Kovy at that time. When he was signed, the Heatley fiasco had no end in sight and we needed to add scoring depth in his inevitable departure. Kovalev was a great choice given his ability to change games and dominate power plays.

Did he do it? Hardly. And hindsight is 20/20 and I can see clearly that he wasn't a $5M man. In the same breath, it's really too bad we couldn't see him in the playoffs, as per Tim's point above.

The argument last summer against the signing were that Kovy was too old and too lazy. While those might seem true now, I was all for the Kovy signing and have to honestly say would do it again.

My question is, however, if not Kovalev, who else could Murray have signed as a replacement for Heatley?

Conrad said...

I wasn't a fan of the signing at the time and I'm still not. A small market team with intense media pressure that needs to make it to the 2nd round of the playoffs just to break even: I don't think it makes sense to sign big ticket, older UFAs that aren't expected to meet that standard. If all we were looking for is about 20 goals and some depth, why pay $5M for it? Better to look for those cheaper guys who offer bigger value.

Now that we've had a year to look back I think it may be worse than I expected: lowest shooting total of his careers (and if you're Kovalev and not shooting, what are you doing?), less than 20 goals, and that's with 4 and 3 goal games, meaning he only scored in about ten other games during the season. And the times he makes room for others are balanced by long stretches of disinterested play. All of this would be excusable on a cheaper contract - say, $3M - but $10M over two years? Huge mistake.

Look at what Miro Satan is doing in Boston for $500k. I'd rather take a flyer on three or four of those guys and end up with a couple in the press box.

Kosmo said...

Was it a good hockey deal? No.

But the Kovalev signing was as much about marketing as it was about the on-ice product.

The franchise was desperate to sell season tickets. They needed a good news story to change the channel on not making the playoffs and having their top sniper demand a trade.

Kovalev was a name and a face that they could market around. Witness the band of kids they surrounded him with when they introduced him to the Ottawa media. Or more telling, the fact they took his photo for the outside banner - presumably to replace Heatley.

How many tickets would Samuelsson have sold?

As far as term goes, I believe Kovy's on record saying the reason he signed with Ottawa was because they were the only team offering a two-year deal.

Master Of Puppets said...

I was one of the ones wondering why we didn't take a chance on a couple of guys - like Tanguay, Sykora or Samuelsson. I wonder what the team would have looked like with a couple of them instead. But I also wonder (what the team could have been) what if we had gotten Ehrhoff in the deal instead of Cheechoo.

Hindsight. 20-20.

Kovalev signing is still up in the air but leaning toward fail. Of his 18 or so goals half were in multi goal games. If he had put up 25 with 40 assists it's more passable. That he didn't get to show us the playoff Kovalev, pushes it more to the fail - we didn't get to see that value.

Now he's had surgery and an injury to rehab - probably won't skate in a game until November. I'm hopeful in a contract year he will play better and his knee won't be a nagging problem leading to a 30 point 60 game season.

The risk in it all - we now have two aging stars - bless Alfie for bringing what he can but he's gonna regress sooner or later.

Michalek is young and still growing with this team - hopefully next season he becomes the consistent 30+ goal scorer this team needs.

The off season is nearly here - let's hope Murray can bring in some improved D men, maybe sign Cullen, when A train walks there is gonna be a shit storm ...

It's a pivotal time in Sensland - stars burning out with no real signs of superstars coming up (Karlsson maybe the exception).

Key off season. For sure.

Master Of Puppets said...

I didn't answer - would I do it again? Yes, given the Heatley mess and there wasn't much out there with a Marquee name I'd probably have too. It was damage control.

You could sign Koivu, Sykora and Tanguay for the same amount and have a decent 2nd line too I suppose. But then Regin, Smith and Shannon don't see the NHL. And Winchester and Chum are the press box observers.

Hmmm, would this mulligan have been better to start the year -

Michalek, Spezza, Alfredsson
Tanguay, Koivu, Sykora
Foligno, Fisher, Cheechoo
Ruutu, Kelly, Neil

Maybe, but would that have dampened the Heatley black eye and filled seats?

My concern with next year is will the team be as good as this year. A train will be gone. Murray can't afford to keep him and pay the rest.

Bright spots - Regin and Karlsson.

Regin looks like another Michalek and may develop even better.

Michalek has to get better. He just pitched his worst year since his first full year in the league and his first with a negative rating.

UFAs Sutton, Cullen, Volchenkov, Donovan - about 9M last year

RFAs Foligno, Regin, Lee, Campoli(arbitration eligible), Winchester (arb el)- 4M total last year

Question Marks - Kovalev and Kuba. 9M Question mark. Do they perform better, status quo or regress?

Goaltending? Who's your number one in 2010/11?

Conrad said...

Kosmo, not sure if the Kovalev signing sells enough season tickets by itself to match, let alone exceed, the $10M worth of salary taken on.

Anonymous said...

Kovalev is a dog and Murray was stupid for wasting money on him. He infects a team like Herpes and, rather than contribute to the team, sucks the life out of it. His intangible talent and mojo does not make-up for his lack of character. I also don't think he helped Fisher as much as all that -as he was simply being his usual streaky self and was due for a good run, after stinking up the ice for the previous season. Sadly, Mr Underwood didn't let us down and went back to his usual "invisible man" routine after the Olympic break and during the post season.
The Sens needed character guys and youth, but instead Murray has loaded up the team with aging misfits and softies...

Hated that deal from day one.


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