Kings General Manager Dean Lombardi, in his first comments since the NHL's free-agent period began, said in a statement he will continue to work on "a number of different scenarios," but didn't mention prized left wing Ilya Kovalchuk by name or characterize his negotiations with Kovalchuk's agent, Jay Grossman.
Lombardi's statement, released Friday afternoon, went on to say, "We do not anticipate any resolution tonight. If something changes we will let you know."
The Kings, who have ample salary cap space and need a productive winger, were considered front-runners for the 27-year-old Russian. While focusing on him and calculating how an annual salary around $10 million would affect their budget and their locker room, they lost out on several free-agent defensemen they had also targeted.
They could also lose out on Kovalchuk. A source who is familiar with the situation but isn't authorized to speak about it publicly said the New York Islanders were offering Kovalchuk $10 million a year for 10 years to become the centerpiece of their team and their campaign for a new arena. The source said the Islanders, who are about $9 million beneath the cap floor, were close to finalizing a deal with Kovalchuk.
That would be a stinging loss for the Kings, who had believed their progress and young core made them a desirable destination for free agents.
Also, a report by CSNPhilly.com said the Kings are a likely trade destination for Flyers winger Simon Gagne. However, they can't take his $5.25-million salary for next season until they know if Kovalchuk will be on their payroll.