As the NHL, NHLPA and the New Jersey Devils prepare for an arbitration dispute over Ilya Kovalchuk's(notes) 17-year, $102 million contract, KHL President Alexander Medvedev wanted Kovy to know that Russia was still ready to accommodate him.
He told Pavel Lysenkov of Sovetsky Sport that SKA St. Petersburg of KHL "easily offer Ilya Kovalchuk a contract for the same 17 years like New Jersey ... If Kovalchuk likes number 17 that much." He also said, "we will have an option so he can choose where to play at the dawn of his [KHL] career."
On Kovalchuk's arbitration, Medvedev said: "I haven't spoken with him myself. I don't want to make his difficult situation any worse. Instead of taking a rest and training, Kovalchuk has to get ready for a court hearing. And these cases, as we know, are unpredictable. There were a lot of instances when players chose to find a peaceful solution with clubs right before hearings."
The KHL president also had words about two NHL players: Alex Frolov, who signed with the New York Rangers, and Denis Grebeshkov(notes), who left the NHL for the KHL after failing to come to terms with the Nashville Predators.
On Frolov, via SovSport:
"I spoke with Alexander during the World Championship. I told him that he can always count on assistance from the league. SKA didn't hide its interest. We know that a number of KHL clubs made offers to Frolov. But due to that fact that he only signed a one year deal [in the NHL], I am not ruling out that we will soon see Alexander Frolov(notes) in the KHL."
On Grebeshkov, Medvedev said the following:
"I would like to congratulate all hockey fans, especially from St. Petersburg. One of our most renowned and titled defensemen Denis Grebeshkov is coming back to Russia. He is doing it at the best age for a player - in October he will be 27 years old. A number of KHL clubs showed interest in Grebeshkov. To be honest, we thought that if Denis was to return to Russia, it would be to his Yaroslavl. We didn't even make any offers to him. But Grebeshkov himself wanted to continue his career in St. Petersburg. As soon as this topic came up, the SKA management without my participation quickly negotiated with the player's agent Mark Gandler. And within a few days all contract terms were agreed upon.
"The contract is for two years on standard terms. It shows once again that modern hockey players clearly understand why this contract structure is in effect this year. There were no objections from Grebeshkov as to why the contract is a ‘70-30.'"
[According to the new KHL CBA, players get 70 percent of their contracts paid for the regular season, and the other 30% subject to club's playoff performance.]
SovSport asked the KHL president: Will Grebeshkov become the highest paid defensemen in SKA?
"No. And, as you know, we do not discuss the money in the media. I know that Grebeshkov wanted to continue his career in the NHL. And I think that Edmonton made a big mistake by sending to Nashville such a defenseman. Maybe Denis didn't have a good season due to an injury. But he fully recovered and he didn't look bad in the Stanley Cup playoffs, just like the rest of the Predators. Although we remember that Nashville was only in one round of the playoffs."
We should have more with Frolov in the near future on Puck Daddy.