A report in Thursday's New York Post suggested the New York Islanders were planning to pursue Ilya Kovalchuk should the Atlanta Thrashers place him on the block before the March 3 trade deadline
Isles GM Garth Snow denied the rumor, however, telling the Post and Newsday he does not want to deviate from the team's plan to build through the draft and "breaking up our young core."
The Post speculates the addition of Kovalchuk could improve the value of the Islanders, who are lobbying for a new arena on Long Island. It was believed John Tavares and Kyle Okposo would have been off limits, but the Thrashers would have had their pick of top prospects, including defensemen Calvin de Haan, Travis Hamonic, Jyri Niemi and forwards Kirill Petrov and Jesse Joensuu.
Kovalchuk, an unrestricted free agent this summer, is seeking a 12-year deal worth $120 million.
Those demands could scare off owner Charles Wang, whose franchise has not fared well when signing Stars to big contracts. Former Islander Alexei Yashin inked a 10-year, $87 million deal in 2001, but ended up being bought out of the last half of the contract after underachieving. In 2006, New York signed franchise goalie Rick DiPietro to a 15-year, $67.5 million deal. Hobbled by hip injuries, DiPietro has appeared in just six games over the past two seasons.