It has not been a great return to the NHL for Kings winger Ilya Kovalchuk. While he got off to a good start, his playing time has steadily decreased as of late to the point where he has spent some time as a healthy scratch (and is expected to sit again tonight). In an interview with Curtis Zupke of the Los Angeles Times, he commented on his frustration with his situation, even suggesting that he hasn’t been given a fair chance under interim coach Willie Desjardins.
Despite the difficulties he has had this season, Kovalchuk was quick to point out that he likes it in Los Angeles and that his family has settled in nicely, implying he has no intention of asking for a trade. To be fair, even if he wanted to be moved, the Kings would likely have some challenges doing so considering he has just 31 points on the season and two years at $6.25MM left on his deal. Instead, it appears the hope will have to be that the 35-year-old will be able to rebound next season, potentially with a new coach behind the bench.
Elsewhere around the league:
- Detroit’s challenges with fielding a complete back end continue. Dana Wakiji of the Red Wings’ team site notes that Jonathan Ericsson has been ruled out of tonight’s game which will be his fifth straight game missed due to a lower-body injury while Trevor Daley has essentially been ruled out for the year. Meanwhile, Libor Sulak, who was recently recalled under emergency conditions, is sick and isn’t expected to suit up against Vegas either. There could be some good news on the horizon up front though as winger Evgeny Svechnikov, who has missed the entire season with a torn ACL, is skating with the team and is hoping to return where he’d likely suit up with their AHL affiliate in Grand Rapids.
- The Rangers are leaning towards shutting winger Jesper Fast down for the remainder of the season, reports Larry Brooks of the New York Post. He has been playing through a shoulder issue for the past three months before the team gave him a night off earlier this week against Detroit. With New York squarely out of the postseason picture, it wouldn’t make sense for them to keep running him out there when he’s not fully healthy. The 27-year-old is already signed for next season with a $1.85MM cap hit.