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NHL Rumors: Devils, Kovalchuk, Franson and Free Agents

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On the New Jersey Devils and Ilya Kovalchuk ….

Andrew Gross of The Record: Ilya Kovalchuk’s agent, Jay Grossman confirmed yesterday that Kovalchuk will be playing next season in the KHL and not coming back to the NHL.

The New Jersey Devils retain his rights until next July 1st. Grossman had been talking to teams about a potential contract and sign-and-trade with the Devils.

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Potential holdups included Kovalchuk’s asking price and what Devils GM Ray Shero wanted. Shero was able to talk to teams on what he wanted in a trade.

The Chicago Blackhawks and Columbus Blue Jackets were interested in Kovalchuk, but he wanted to be closer to New York/New Jersey.

Kovalchuk will be a UFA next July and will be a 35+ player. So any contract he signs the team will be on the hook for.

The Devils were hoping the return for Kovalchuk would help their rebuild.

The Devils could use a top-four defenseman.

On the New Jersey Devils …

Andrew Gross: (asked if Cody Franson could be an option for the Devils) Thought of Franson was an option if they weren’t able to sign Kevin Shattenkirk. It sounds like he is looking for more than one or two years, which is something the Devils likely aren’t wanting to do.

On the Free Agents …

Joe Smith of the Tampa Bay Times: Some players are giving up money and term to play in the city they prefer. Kevin Shattenkirk took less to “fulfill a lifelong dream” and play for the Rangers. Joe Thornton could have gotten more than one-year but re-signed with the Sharks.

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