Could Kovalchuk provide Rangers an offensive boost
Ilya Kovalchuk is on the outs in L.A.. He is no longer going to dress for the foreseeable future and it sounds like the Kings are working on his release.
That foreseeable future has an important date of December 15th. That is when he will receive a bonus, so you can expect the Kings to aggressively attempt to trade him. My thought is it will be no avail and L.A. is going to have to take the full financial hit.
Can the Kings trade him? It’s unlikely considering his salary and the fact he has a full no trade clause. That means he is either heading back to the KHL, which I feel is the likely conclusion, or sign with an NHL team.
Once Kovalchuk’s contract is terminated by the Kings, which will not offer Los Angeles cap relief as he’s signed to a 35-plus contract, he will be presented with several options: he could return to the KHL, but he will also be free to join another NHL organization, likely on a deal worth significantly less as a low-risk, high-reward option for an offensively starved team.THN
Everyone still remembers that there were plenty of reports Kovalchuk would sign with the Rangers. The sides did talk, but Ilya’s $6M demand was not something Jeff Gorton was interested in. So what about a 1 year deal at $1-2M dollars sound? To be honest, pretty good.
Taking a risk on Kovalchuk to play on your third line and 2nd PP unit isn’t a terrible idea. Especially since Vitali Kravtsov opted to go back to the KHL this season. The move would add an offensive player to the team’s third line and bump McKegg or Smith off the 4th line and improve Lias Andersson’s wingers. David Quinn could even put Ilya on the 4th line to help see what you have in Andersson.
Bottom line is if he is released and a UFA who will take a short term – low money deal it may not be a bad idea. At the end of the day, I expect Kovalchuk will end his playing career in Russia.