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Time has passed since his retirement from the NHL in 2013, but Ilya Kovalchuk wants to return to the NHL for another go. Most recently, he has visited with the Los Angeles Kings and the San Jose Sharks in pursuit of said return. With some cap maneuvering and good contemplation, Kovalchuk could be a fit in Boston.
Having worn a letter on his sweater throughout all of his time in the KHL with SKA St. Petersburg since retiring, Kovalchuk was relied on as a leader. After winning Olympic gold and seeing some steady KHL success, the Russian sniper wants another try in the NHL, and there will undoubtedly be interest.
Ilya Kovalchuk in California this weekend. Visited with the LA Kings yesterday and will meet with the Sharks tomorrow.
— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) June 9, 2018
For the Bruins fans who want to see Rick Nash re-signed, think of Kovalchuk as a slightly older, and better option on the right side. In 262 KHL games dating back to the 2013-2014 season, Kovalchuk amassed 120 goals, 165 assists, and 285 points, thus averaging over a point-per-game. Even at 35-years-old, it is apparent that Kovalchuk can still produce at a high level. Before then, he produced at a very high level in the NHL with the New Jersey Devils and Atlanta Thrashers.
The controversy related to how he left the NHL in the midst of a 15-year, $100 million contract and screwed over the New Jersey Devils may scare some and for a good reason. That reason provokes to bring up the idea of a short-term deal. The contract was eventually terminated in 2013, leading to New Jersey having to pay just $250,000 through the 2024-2025 season instead. Offer Kovalchuk a year or two and $5.5-6 million AAV and see what he says.
This Ilya Kovalchuk trick shot is unreal pic.twitter.com/atfzSkqmU7
— Wheeling Problems (@wheelingprobs) May 10, 2018
In the Bruins’ case, Anders Bjork will be returning from injury and will have something to say about a top-6 right-wing gig that Rick Nash or Ilya Kovalchuk may get in the way of. It’s also worth noting that Kovalchuk will likely fetch more money annually than Rick Nash. Not to mention Ryan Donato will be looking for a consistent role on the NHL roster as his first full season approaches. I’m not necessarily for the possibility of limiting ice-time for younger players in this scenario, but, if Don Sweeney does decide to plug in a veteran in free agency, I’d prefer it be someone like Ilya Kovalchuk versus Rick Nash. Those are some important things that Don Sweeney and crew will have to consider if they decide to pursue Nash or Kovalchuk in free agency.
Ilya Kovalchuk is set to travel to the United States tomorrow and begin meetings with NHL teams.
— Aivis Kalniņš (@A_Kalnins) April 28, 2018
One-year for Kovalchuk could give David Krejci an experienced and lethal sniper on his wing to feed for goals, along with a young, dynamic left-winger in someone like Jake DeBrusk or Ryan Donato. If things go well in this scenario, the Bruins have a lethal second line, and the signing is a win. A player with Kovalchuk’s shooting capabilities could fit very well on an already productive Bruins powerplay on his opposite wing eyeing one-timers and back-door goals. If that doesn’t work out, I’m sure teams could be interested in acquiring Kovalchuk as a rental player at the trade deadline. That’s the doomsday scenario.
Pieces will have to fall into place to get a free agent like Kovalchuk to Boston, but it is definitely possible. Whether it will happen or not is to be determined.
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