March 9, 2013; Raleigh, NC, USA; New Jersey Devils right wing Ilya Kovalchuk (17) skates during the 2nd period against the Carolina Hurricanes at the PNC center. The Hurricanes defeated the Devils 6-3. Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

Ilya Kovalchuk’s rights could garner interest from Leafs, Rangers, Sharks and Blues (among others), asking price high on RHD Chris Tanev, draft combine coverage, and more in the links.

Leafs Links

Laviolette: Ignoring advanced stats would not be wise (Sportsnet)
Peter Laviolette talked about using advanced analytics to guide him but made sure to stress the importance of the “X-factor” when using his players:

To ignore that information would be not wise on my part. There is a lot of information out there that can help guide you, from how your team’s playing to how a player is playing, how a line is playing, how a matchup works. There is just a lot of information out there. I just think that you’re crazy not to use that information.

I think that your eyeball factors into that. I do think that somebody’s will to win and what they might bring to a locker room, what they might bring to a lineup that might not show up in some of those numbers — those are some of the things that you have to take into consideration and the evaluate the bigger picture of your team and of that player and of a situation.

I think it’s important. There is a lot of information that comes in from different ways — whether it’s numbers, whether it’s my eyeball, whether it’s a score of a game, whether it’s somebody’s X-factors that they bring to that table. All of that stuff should be weighed and you make decisions from there.

Asking price high for Canucks’ Chris Tanev (Sportsnet)
according to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, the Canucks aren’t exactly eager to trade Tanev. Teams have been calling Vancouver about a potential move, but the price to acquire him remains high.

“There’s been a lot of talk about Chris Tanev and the Vancouver Canucks. The one thing I’ve heard is other GMs who say they’ve reached out to Vancouver have been told this is no guarantee and if Chris Tanev is going anywhere the price is going to be very high for him. He’s got three more years under contract. He’s a good player at a good price. I don’t think Vancouver is looking to do this unless it’s a great deal.”

Ilya Kovalchuk still interested in returning to the NHL (Sportsnet)
Any hopes of former New Jersey Devils forward Ilya Kovalchuk returning to the NHL are still alive and well, according to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman.

“There were reports this week that Ilya Kovalchuk would stay in the KHL and not come back to North America. Word out of the Scouting Combine is that is not the case; that Kovalchuk is still very much interested in playing in the NHL next season. I won’t be surprised if some of the interest comes from people who know him — maybe like a Peter DeBoer of San Jose, Martin Brodeur in St. Louis, possibly even a Lou Lamoriello in Toronto. It’s a complex deal because of New Jersey and getting him signed, but the word is that teams are saying Kovalchuk still wants to come to North America.”

Could Devils get best return from Rangers for major trade piece? (New York Post)
Slap Shots has learned the Blues (with AGM Martin Brodeur), Maple Leafs (with Lou Lamoriello) and Sharks (with coach Pete DeBoer) are among more than a half-dozen clubs who have expressed interest in Kovalchuk. Let’s understand that Ray Shero has the upper hand at this moment, and the Devils general manager would need to get more back from the Rangers in a trade than, say, from the Blues or Sharks. But Shero can’t overplay his hand, either, because he essentially will only hold Kovalchuk’s NHL rights through July 1. If the Devils don’t deal Kovalchuk by then, he likely would return to Russia for a final season before becoming an unrestricted free agent next July 1.

Leafs talk with big Steelheads defenceman Hague (Toronto Sun)
“It was a good interview,” Hague said of his talks with the Leafs, among the many clubs talking to him. “A lot of the guys in that room had seen me play right from minor midget in the Toronto area. A lot of a familiar faces were there and it was nice to meet guys such as Mr. (Lou) Lamoriello and the guys you always see on TV.”

Nicolas Hague – 2017 NHL Draft Profile (MLHS)
Two things leap off the page with the Kitchener native: His size and his offensive production from the blue line. He tallied 46 points in 65 regular season games — 15th among OHL defencemen in points scoring, and second among the 17 and 18-year-old defencemen eligible for the draft – before adding 12 points in 18 playoff games. His 18 goals and 204 shots on goal ranked him third among OHL defencemen in goal scoring (first among draft eligibles) and fourth in shots on goal (first among draft eligibles). According to the Steelheads’ coordinator of hockey analytics Zac Urback, Hague also shows well according to manual tracking metrics.

Uncertainty over Nolan Patrick’s health follows him to NHL Combine (Ottawa Sun)
That health uncertainty followed him here, where every team that grilled him this week, even just for intel purposes, delved into his medical background, followed by another round on Friday with reporters. Scribes from Jersey and Philly were naturally most curious. “It is what it is, I don’t get mad about it or frustrated when people ask me,” Patrick said. “I had two hernias at the same time, they missed one, but I’m not disappointed in the doctor. He was trying to do the best job he could. It happens sometimes.