Steals and Gambles: Kovalev, Biron and Malholtra

With the rush of news on free agency slowing down to a steady trickle, there are still quite a few players who are still on the market. Some are guys who were once All-Stars like Sergei Zubov, Alex Kovalev and Alex Tanguay. Whether it is age, character or contract demands, these guys are still available for some reason or another.

We thought it would be fun to classify some of them as steals or gambles. Some are even STEAL-GAMBLES! Exciting, we know.

Here’s the first three. More will come later this week, unless everyone gets scooped up.

Alex Kovalev
Classification: High risk, high reward gamble

We don’t have a hidden camera in on Kovalev’s negotiations, but we wonder if the ultra-talented, eternally “enigmatic” Russian simply wants too much dough. Matt of Battle of Alberta did a great job of shedding some light on Kovie’s supposed “struggles” last year (showing that AK 27’s 2007-08 was an anomaly more than anything else).

It’s hard to say which team would be the best fit for Kovalev. The fan in us shouts Pittsburgh, but he’d absolutely need to take a pay cut. Montreal makes sense, even if the makeup of that team changed drastically. Where else do you think would be a good home for Kovalev?

Interesting scenarios: Pittsburgh (big pay cut), Montreal, Vancouver(?).

Martin Biron
Classification: Possible steal

There isn’t much that’s sexy about Martin Biron (aside from the fact that he has the eyes of a Husky … wait, is the mic still on? Uh oh …), but the guy has experience as a No.1 goaltender. He might actually have been a good fit in Pittsburgh, if it weren’t for one fashion choice:

Oops!

Like most of the speculation here, we don’t know why he hasn’t signed with anyone yet. Is he in 1b/backup denial? Does he want more money?

If he accepts a possible backup or 1b role, he could be a very nice asset at the $1.5 million or so mark.

Interesting scenarios: Los Angeles, Dallas, Philadelphia

Manny Malhotra
Classification: Probable steal

One stat we are excessively enamored with his faceoff ability. Malhotra consistently dominates in the circle, ranking fourth in FO percentage this season. (He was also #2 in 07-08 and #12 in 06-07)

Now, obviously, you’re not going to generate gaudy offense when double-M is out on the ice. That being said, according to Mirtle’s evaluations, he does seem to make good use of his minutes on the ice.

We really like what we saw from Todd Marchant in last year’s playoffs, but it appears that Mal-ULTRA might just be a younger version of the speedy defensive center. He’d be a great addition for a team looking for an above average shutdown center and a force in the circle.

Interesting scenarios: CBJ, New Jersey, any team that needs a shutdown center.

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