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The Nation Notebook: Vegas is Ready, Ilya Kovalchuk, and Evander Kane to L.A.?

The Nation Network Notebook is a regular feature that rounds up interesting news, stories, and rumours from around the NHL that don’t quite deserve their own article. 

The Vegas Golden Knights might be making moves as soon as this week. Ilya Kovalchuk is newly connected to teams like San Jose, St. Louis, and Toronto in the latest rumours. Dallas might have one of their former first-round draft picks returning next season. Could Evander Kane be heading to Los Angeles?

Is Vegas Ready to Deal?

Vegas Golden Knights general manager George McPhee says there could be trades as soon as the next few days. McPhee has been fielding calls from general managers for quite some time, and he’d even consider taking a few big contracts if the price was right.

It might be odd to have trades during the middle of the cup finals, but the NHL scheduled all of this pretty tightly. There won’t be much turnover between the end of the season and the Vegas hoopla. Besides, having an overpaid player dumped to Vegas probably won’t steal much of the attention, but you’d think they would have all of this spread out a bit so the league is in constant discussion throughout the summer.

Ilya and Friends

Ilya Kovalchuk wants to return to the NHL, but where exactly is still being discussed. Its been rumoured he wants to return to the New York area, or possibly Florida, but Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman said he might go to certain teams that have a connection to when he last played in the NHL. San Jose has his former coach Pete Deboer. Toronto has Lou Lamiorello, who signed him to that mega deal, and the young talent Kovalchuk could play with. St. Louis has a former teammate in Martin Brodeur who is now assistant general manager.

All three teams are competitive, and if Kovalchuk wants to win he could potentially ride the wave up with Toronto or provide either San Jose or St. Louis with scoring help. St. Louis is a bit cap strapped, but San Jose has the cap space and expiring veterans that need replacing.

A Valeri Nichushkin Return?

Valeri Nichushkin went to Russia last season but he might be ready to return to the Stars next season. Nichushkin put up 24 points in 34 games for CSKA Moskva in the KHL, and should be able to claim a spot in the Stars’ top nine forwards next fall. Although, he’s eligible for the expansion draft so Dallas will need to protect him or he’d be a surefire pick for the Golden Knights. Luckily they don’t have many forwards of consequence to lose, so protecting Nichuskin shouldn’t be a problem.

Kane and Los Angeles

Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman says the Buffalo Sabres are ready to move Evander Kane if a deal makes sense and the Los Angeles Kings have interest in the forward.

Acquiring Kane makes a lot of sense for the Kings. They’re desperate for scoring and Kane had 28 goals last year, along with a history of being a great even strength scorer. The Sabres’ winger would provide much needed speed to Los Angeles. He shouldn’t come at an extreme cost either with only one year left on his contract.

Buffalo might not have Evander Kane in their long-term plans, so Kane could be used to acquire much needed help on defense. The only problem is that might be tough to extract from Los Angeles. Both Jake Muzzin and Alec Martinez have multiple years left on their contracts. Doughty is obviously not going anywhere. Maybe Jason Botterelli likes 25-year-old defenceman Derek Forbort, who might not be able to be protected by Los Angeles in the expansion draft. Forbort played over 20-minutes a game for the Kings last season, so he might be of interest to the Sabres in an Evander Kane deal.