Washington Capitals May Have Some Interest in Ilya Kovalchuk

Ilya Kovalchuk
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - OCTOBER 12: Ilya Kovalchuk #17 of the Los Angeles Kings skates during warm up before the game against the Nashville Predators at Staples Center on October 12, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

Since Ilya Kovalchuk became an unrestricted free agent when his former Los Angeles Kings team terminated his contract, some teams have expressed interest in the aging forward. Among teams who thought about signing Kovalchuk included the Boston Bruins, Pittsburgh Penguins, New York Islanders, and Calgary Flames. It seems these four teams have now lost interest in going forward with Kovalchuk joining them.

Ilya Kovalchuk Headed to Washington?

Some rumours were flying when the Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin posted a picture of him and Kovalchuk sharing some wine together on Christmas in Florida. Both NHL players own property in the Miami area. It could also be two players who know each other getting together for some holiday cheer.

The details on this rumour is that the Capitals have limited cap space available with only $320,397 in their wallet to spend on any contracts. That could change. Kovalchuk may take the league minimum of $700,000 which would be prorated depending on when he may sign. It’s clear that Kovalchuk wants to remain in the NHL. That became apparent when the deadline for him to go back to the KHL expired last Friday.

Unfortunately for the Kings if Kovalchuk signs with any team they will not receive any cap relief from the $6.25 million contract that they agreed to pay the forward.

He would provide some depth scoring… as if the Capitals need that with the highest-scoring offence in the NHL. They score 3.56 goals a game so adding any offence that Kovalchuk may provide is not a motive to sign him.

Don’t forget that Ovechkin is an elite star player and in professional sports (especially the NBA) star players seem to have input on player additions for some reason. Whether that would affect general manager Brian MacLellan or not is yet to be determined.

Does Ilya Kovalchuk Have Anything to Offer?

He is a veteran player and would fit in nicely on the forward line for the Caps. He can play either wing but prefers left-wing, just like his buddy Ovechkin. To discount him as totally washed up is premature. After all, he did manage to score three goals, with six assists in 17 games with the Kings. It seems that the speed of some teams may not fit into Kovalchuk’s aging years and style of play. That’s where he may very well be an asset for the slower offensive grind it out style of play that the Washington team employs.

Kovalchuk’s career statistics speak for itself. He has collected 436 goals, 423 assists in 897 NHL games for a total of 859 points. Balanced scoring is always an attractive attribute for any NHL team. He’s not a defensive whiz by any means and he would do what he does best, help the team score. At 36-years-old the question remains can he still play and be healthy enough to contribute?

Going Forward

There may be other teams interested in Kovalchuk’s services but right now the Capitals may be the front runner. If Ovechkin thinks he will help the team go for another Cup you can be assured that he will voice that opinion to MacLellan.

After never winning a Cup Kovalchuk is not any different than any other NHL player whose ultimate dream is to hoist the trophy just once in a career. He could be able to do just that with the Capitals. They possess the best record in the league nearing the halfway point of the season.

This very well may be Kovalchuk’s last year playing hockey. So he wants to end it with a blast of success.

Besides, playing with Ovechkin can’t be all that bad… right?

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