Trading For Alex Kovalev?

Alex Kovalev - Ottawa Senators

ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun let out a rather juicy rumour during Hockey Night In Canada’s Hotstove segment Saturday.

The rumour? The St. Louis Blues are interested in Ottawa’s Alex Kovalev. No big deal.

I wouldn’t have believed it, but LeBrun – a respected hockey writer – was pretty adamant about it. According to one of LeBrun’s sources, the Blues had called the Senators about Kovalev’s availability (following a 4th line demotion by coach Cory Clouston late last week) but were told he wouldn’t be traded. It’s worth noting Kovalev’s contract includes a no movement clause.

According to SensChirp.ca, there are whispers the Blues may be willing to part with Brad Boyes.

Am I missing something here? Alex Kovalev: Perennial underachiever? Talented player who single handedly made me learn how to spell ‘inconsistent’ properly? (I always used ‘a’ instead of ‘e’ prior to writing hockey articles about Kovalev). For Brad Boyes?

I understand the Blues have a number of injuries to key forwards including T.J. Oshie and David Perron at the moment. I also understand the importance of St. Louis making the playoffs and finishing the year strong. But looking at Kovalev as a player who can help with that? And as an upgrade from Boyes? Yikes… I’m not so sure.

I haven’t even addressed what the Blues might be willing to give up for Kovalev. Suppose that Boyes for Kovalev rumour is true. Are the Blues nuts?

I’d make that trade in less time than it takes for Pascal Leclaire to get injured if I was Bryan Murray. What’s to lose? It’s $1 Million off this year’s payroll (Boyes makes $4M and Kovalev makes $5M – thanks CapGeek), plus one addition season at the same rate next year. I guess there’s some perceived risk because Boyes’ goal scoring production has dropped considerably since his 43 goal 2007-2008 season. Regardless, it’s safe to say Boyes offers far more potential than Kovalev. Boyes would also represent a “real” top 6 forward Murray has been trying to add to the Senators roster for several years now. Even if Murray isn’t the Senators GM next season, this wouldn’t be considered a handcuffing-type trade.

Suppose the Blues aren’t willing to part with Boyes but still have interest in Kovalev. I wonder what they would be willing to give up? Kovalev is in the last year of his contract and is 37-years old. He’s obviously in the later stages of his career. Marco Sturm recently fetched “future considerations” (read: nothing) in his (long delayed) trade to the Los Angles Kings. Granted, Kovalev is a much more talented player, but it’s not like that market is hot for older wingers with sizable contracts.

If it were up to me, I’d take a bag of pucks from the Blues based on the fact that they would be taking on approximately $2.5M of Kovalev’s generous contract. I’m sure Sens owner Eugene Melnyk would support that too. I would much rather give that money to Boyes than Kovalev, but that’s just me. According to Andy Strickland, the Senators don’t want to take on additional money beyond this season (even if the total difference is $3 Million?).

But seriously, what would the Blues give in return for Kovalev? A mid-caliber prospect? A decent future draft pick? I can’t see what the Senators wouldn’t take in such a trade. I also can’t see why the Senators want to keep Kovalev. I don’t think a trade involving Kovalev would be viewed as “throwing in the towel” on the season (especially if Boyes was part of the return).

To any Blues fan reading this article – How do you feel about the apparent interest in Kovalev? What would you be comfortable seeing them trade for AK27?

No matter how many times I think about it, I can’t see why St. Louis would make this trade and I can’t see why Ottawa wouldn’t.