Los Angeles Kings find themselves in a very complicated situation. Although they are just six points out of the playoff contention, they are willing to rebuild. This rebuild would include trades of some of their star players on the roster. But one name not rumored in trade chatter was Ilya Kovalchuk. As it seems now, the Kings will consider trading Russian winger. Will they find a suitor thought?
Los Angeles Kings Putting Kovalchuk on Trade Block?
As David Pagnotta from The Fourth Period reported, the Kings would potentially consider trading Ilya Kovalchuk. Kovalchuk has a no-movement clause in his contract, so he can easily turn down any kind of trade. But no one is pretty sure, whether Ilya Kovalchuk himself does not seek a move out of Los Angeles.
Ilya Kovalchuk is willing to waive his NMC for the right situation. Kings will likely have to retain some salary. There are teams interested. https://t.co/hBSce7l20u
— David Pagnotta (@TheFourthPeriod) 5. februára 2019
Signing Ilya Kovalchuk in the last offseason was presumably a mistake for the Los Angeles Kings. Denying a fact that your team is in the rebuild mode, or at least in a need for a rebuild, with signing a 35-years-old player to more than six million per season has not proved to be beneficial for the Los Angeles Kings. On the other side, signing with the Kings was likely a mistake from Kovalchuk as well.
Why Ilya Kovalchuk returned to the NHL? He wanted to get himself one more shot at winning the Stanley Cup. He had a unique chance with the New Jersey Devils in 2012 against the Kings. But he left North America after the 2012-2013 season for the KHL. Los Angeles now seems to be that kind of team which is not going to shoot for the Stanley Cup for quite some time. Since Alec Martinez scored a cup-winning goal in double OT of Game 5 of the Stanley Cup final in 2014, the Kings have won just one game in the playoffs.
Ilya Kovalchuk and his Tough Season
There is no question about the verity of those reports from the source listed above, it is not that much important at this point. At this point, it is more important for both sides to settle down and find the right solution. Ilya Kovalchuk wants to win the Stanley Cup, even without reports we would figure out he is willing to play for a contender.
The teams rumored to have interest in Kovalchuk are Boston Bruins, Dallas Stars, and New York Islanders. Certainly, all of these teams are looking for a veteran winger to score some goals. Nevertheless, Kovalchuk is signed through the 2020-2021 season with $6.25 million annual salary cap hit. In the case of a trade, the Kings would possibly have to retain some salary.
Kovalchuk has had a rough season. He understood that Los Angeles is not the greatest destination to win the Stanley Cup as of now. He has also been struggling with his form and injuries. The Russian winger missed 10 games with ankle issues. In his first game back from an injury, he scored two goals in a win in San Jose against the Sharks. In 43 games this season, Kovalchuk has 11 goals and 15 assists for 26 points while being -15. Despite his struggles and woes, he can still fire the puck and be a lethal offensive force.
Should the Kings Consider Trading Kovalchuk?
For the Los Angeles Kings, trading Kovalchuk would be a failure, not a mistake though. General Manager Rob Blake should not have signed Kovalchuk in the offseason almost a year ago. Now it is pretty logical that the Kings are trying to unload his contract.
Ilya Kovalchuk is probably going to end his season after the first week of April if he stays in Los Angeles. To have a better shot at winning the Stanley Cup, Kovalchuk needs to be traded. There is still plenty of time for both parts to make a decision. Trade Deadline is 19 days away. Kovalchuk will be 36 entering the next season. He can possibly wait and see how his second year after his comeback works out.
From the Kings perspective, it does not really matter whether they trade Kovalchuk now or next year. Actually, moving him with just one year left on his contract would be much easier than with two years left. Maybe Russian forward will improve mightly next season and if the Kings are still not a playoff team, they may at least get more in return for him without necessitating salary retention.
It all appears to depend on Ilya Kovalchuk and his decision. If he wants to get moved before the Trade Deadline, he is likely going to get it. If he is going to assume all those facts stated above, he is probably going to wait one more year. From his point of view, getting moved to a team like Boston Bruins, which he declined last July, would be just awkward to say at least.
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