That is the classic saying, right? Good things come to those that wait. I do not think this is always true, as while there are many times where waiting can bring forth the best, there are also times when waiting too much can hurt you. Just ask a few of the big name free agents still waiting on the market. You can ask Ilya Kovalchuk or Marty Turco about that. While both keep saying that they are waiting for the right offer, and that there is no need to rush into a deal, talks about both keep lingering and the longer it goes until they sign I believe the less likely they are to get what they want.
Ilya Kovalchuk: The days keep passing and still no signing of the top name on the free agent market this summer. The Russian Left-winger is simply looking for a really big contract when it may not be the best time. Kovy turned down a pair of enormous contract offers from the Atlanta Thrashers during last season. Rumored to have been offered $70 million over 7 years and $100 million over 12 years, he turned down both I guess because he did not want to stay in Atlanta and/or wanted a better contract. So the Thrashers moved him to the New Jersey Devils. The Devils lose in the first round of the playoffs and here we are now. The teams interested are the Devils, the L.A. Kings (depending on what day you talk to them), and possibly the New York Islanders. The Devils mostly want him back but it is unclear really if Kovalchuck wants to come back. And the Devils would either be trying to offer him a bit less, or will have to make moves to get under the cap by the start of the season. The Kings have long been involved in the Kovy talks dating to at the trade deadline during last season. They want him and he seems very eager to go to L.A. but only if they pay him what he wants. And he is still seeking about $10 million a season and wants a long term deal. It is actually ridiculous in my opinion. Making that much would make him the highest paid player in the league if I am correct. He is great, can score and distribute, and is very smart, but he is not the best player in the league. GM Lombardi for the Kings keeps breaking off talks when no ground is made between the two sides, and then gives it a try a day or two later. They want him in L.A. but are concerned with the next C.B.A. (collective bargaining agreement) that will take effect in 2 years. Many are starting to believe that the next C.B.A. result in a lower cap and huge deals like this could cripple teams. And they may already, as it would be hard for the Kings to pay other players and give new contracts to all their young talent over the next 2-3 years while paying one guy $10+ million a year. The Islanders might have an outside chance but Ilya has not shown real interest in going there although it is rumored they have offered a $90-100 million over 10 year contract to him.
So what happens now? Well he has one more option. He could return to his home and play in the KHL. SKA St. Petersburg this week signed Evgeni Nabokov to a nice 4 year deal at $6 million per year. It was way more then Nabokov could have gotten in the NHL right now and he seemed okay with returning home and getting payed nicely. Ilya has been offered a contract by SKA and could choose to go over there. The club would either have to pay a nice luxury tax for going over the cap, or get rid of some salary, but there is a slight possibility he could do that. But at this point it looks like his best option may be to take a little smaller of a contract for less time, and then try to get a new deal after the C.B.A. goes into place. But he and his agent are still adamant that they want the contract they want.
Marty Turco: The long-time Dallas Stars goalie is still floating out in the free agency pool. He may have played his cards wrong and now seems to be running out of options. Turco wants to be the #1 guy wherever he goes, and it looked like at the start of the summer he could have a few teams to pick from. But the San Jose Sharks went cheap with Antero Niittymaki at $4 million over 2 years, St.Louis traded for Halak, and multiple teams (Montreal, Tampa Bay, Atlanta) have chosen to platoon with what they have and/or just add in a lower level or cheaper option. It is very smart by many GMs right now. The cap holds teams to so much, and some are even operating under it. There are many young goalies coming up, and guys like Ellis and Mason who are guys that have been at the NHL level for a bit without playing with a good team or being given a good chance to be a #1 guy. This left the few older vets like Turco and Nabokov wanting to still be a #1, but hoping for the paycheck they have been used to for a while. So Nabokov saw the money and chance to return to Russia, and he realized it was his best option and being back in his home country while making probably twice what he could here was the way to go. Some are not happy with it, but he makes a great paycheck for his age while getting to play and being near home. I think if I were in his shoes it would have been the road I would have taken. But Marty has no such option and at this point is really stuck with either going to Philly or maybe joining a platoon and trying to be the guy who gets more minutes. The Flyers reportedly offered him $2 million per 3 years and the starting job before free agency started, and Turco turned it down to see what all his options were and if he could get more money. My guess is he is looking for about $3 million a year for at least 2 years, and now he may be lucky to make $2 million. The Flyers are trying to move players to make cap space from taking on more defenseman and now are in the process of signing Nikolai Zherdev for $2 million. So at this point even if he were to come back and say “yes I want that deal,” it may be too late. He is trying to play it calm and wait, but at this point it looks like all the players have completed the game and he is still just sitting there watching. Sometimes good things come to those that wait, but if you miss the train then you may not see another one for a while. And right now it could be a long while for one or both of these free agents.