As we publish Friday’s practice report, I thought I would share of a couple things from my interview with GM Don Waddell after the first period last night.
On the ongoing contract talks with Ilya Kovalchuk, Waddell said: “Talks continue on. We met in Saskatoon (at the World Junior Championships). Our priority still remains to get him signed. We’ve made some progress but we are obviously not ready yet to put a signature on a contract.
“The positive thing is the talks have continued. They haven’t broken down. We talk almost daily. To me, that’s all part of the process. If talks break down because one side puts their shoes too far in the sand then you know you’re probably at an impasse. At this point, that hasn’t happened. Both sides continue to talk and try to find away to make this deal work.
“Ilya still feels real good about the team. I’ve talked to him about him. Obviously we hit a slide here but I think we proved the first 30 games that we are a pretty good team.”
On the near return of Kari Lehtonen, Waddell said: “He’s probably still a few weeks away. He’ll start full practices with our team next week. Let’s see how that goes next week. If we have to make a decision we haven’t ruled out going to [AHL] Chicago to play a few games. We’ll take it from there. I always say until he becomes healthy and ready to play something else might happen. It’s a good problem to have if and when he gets healthy.
“[He is experiencing] no pain at all. He’s been completely cleared 100 percent by our doctors and trainers. It’s all a conditioning factor now. He had a great week last week. He’s dropping some weight and getting in shape. He’ll need another week or 10 days like that before we start talking about games.”
Waddell added this about the possibility of trading one of the three goaltenders. “I hope it’s a good situation for us. It’s something we talked about last summer. Obviously, we didn’t get there. When we get there we’ll see what our options are.”
On with the report from practice.
Nik Antropov did not practice with the team. He continues to be out with a hip injury. Coach John Anderson said Antropov was “probable” for Saturday’s game against the Capitals, but I will update.
Mark Popovic and Lehtonen both had on-ice workouts before practice.
Here are the lines:
All seven healthy defenseman took part in practice.
I will update after practice and interviews.