Senators Claim Svatos & Trade Kovalev


Stop pinching yourself. This isn’t a dream. The Senators have claimed Marek Svatos off of waivers from the Nashville Predators.

Like a blunt at a Sublime concert or Svatos himself, news that the Senators had claimed Marek Svatos off of waivers from the Nashville Predators has circulated through Twitter.

As an impending unrestricted free agent and has a prorated salary of $800k, at first glance it looks like Svatos’ addition was designed with the intent of returning a forward back to Binghamton. However, Svatos has a relationship with Cory Clouston stemming back to their days with the Kootenay Ice of the WHL. In his final year (2001-02) of junior hockey under The Little General’s watch, Svatos posted an impressive 38 golas and 39 assists in 53 games.

While Svatos has scored more than 25 goals twice in his career — he scored 32 in 2005-06 and 26 in 2007-08 — some people may still believe that he is a natural scorer with something left in the tank. The truth is that he hasn’t been a NHL regular since the 2008-09 season when he played 69 games for the Avalance. Although he did play in 54 games in 2009-10 (posting 7 goals and 4 assists), he left the NHL to play professionally in Slovakia and he spent the early portion of this season playing in the KHL. In December 2010, he signed his current contract with St. Louis but had to clear waivers before he could play with the organization. After Nashville submitted a claim, he produced 1 goal and 2 assists in 9 games. I know that this is a relatively small sample size to consider but I’m not too sure how anyone can think this is a guy who the organization can slot into a wing position on one of the top two lines and get some production out of.

Mind you, this is the same management team that felt comfortable putting Randy Robitaille on the ice in that same capacity… so who knows?

However, as I started to write this piece,TSN’s Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) has tweeted that Alexei Kovalev celebrates his 38th birthday in style, by waiving his NTC to become a Pittsburgh Penguin. OTT receives conditional 7th round pick for Kovalev. If PIT wins 1st round of playoffs and Kovalev plays 50 per cent of games, it’s a 6th.

Don’t hold your breath expecting Kovalev to take out a one page ad in the Ottawa Citizen thanking fans for their support. He’d probably be better served dropping leaflets out of his plane. I’m already preparing myself for tomorrow’s headline, The Enigmatic Kovalev Disappears For Good.

The trade itself saves Ottawa approximately $1.2 million and considering the value of this conditional pick, the trade is a condemnation of his reputation around the League more than it is a reflection of Ray Shero’s GM abilities. Without a real market for Kovalev’s services, this is the kind of low risk-high reward — Kovalev does have 9 points in his last 10 games played — move that Pittsburgh could afford to make with Malkin and Crosby both out indefinitely.

Does this calculated gamble sound familiar?

It should. It’s the same song and dance routine that we were fed by ownership and management when his 2-year, $10 million pact was announced.

“You always want your players to play 100 percent and that’s difficult over 82 games,” Murray said. “If you are judgmental then you can find a hole. (The critics) claim that Alex has been a little more inconsistent than he should be. I think the opposite. When he plays great, he can win a game for you. We have many real hard workers in this organization, guys that will compete for us every single night. But we need something special to go with that and this guy is a special player in that he’s got the ability to make players around him better and he can score.

[...]

I think he likes the spotlight. There are people who are very judgmental of every player and more often than not find fault rather than the good things. Kovalev is a guy who makes players around him a lot better. He is a big time playmaker, he is real strong on the puck, and when he gets a chance to play on the power play, he makes the power play work. He’s got a big shot. I think he is one of the most exciting players in the League.” ~ Bryan Murray via NHL.com

Entertaining?

Sure, on some nights. On every other night, he was the same overpaid, inconsistent, and underappreciated player whose reputation preceded him. I could empathize as to why the organization brought him in as insurance for Heatley’s imminent departure but Ottawa never embraced him the same way that Montreal did. And in retrospect, we should have expected as much after he exhibited a mercenary-like willingness to leave Montreal – a city where he was revered – and chase the dollars to come here.

When Kovalev was asked if he will ever enjoy the acclaim from Ottawa fans that so recently was bestowed upon him by thousands of supporters in Montreal?

“It’s up to me to bring them onside,” Kovalev said. “The only way I can do it is to play my best.”

Or not… but that doesn’t mean that Pens fans are jazzed to get him!

Here’s a quote from EvanKunkle, a commenter on TPB:

Alexei Kovalev: Labeled a lazy and enigmatic player by Ottawa fans. It’s not that he CAN’T score, it’s just that he doesn’t want to try his best. I don’t blame him for not having any motivation. He’s overpaid and stuck playing for a shitty team up north, eh. No motivation there. He still has some left in the tank and he’s a great veteran pickup coming back to his “hometown”. See also, Bill Guerin.

Good fucking luck with that fellas.

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