The Montreal Canadiens have announced they have signed forward Ilya Kovalchuk to a one-year, two-way contract. The contract carries a salary-cap hit of $700,000.
— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) January 3, 2020
Ilya Kovalchuk Signs With Montreal
Kovalchuk is back making headlines again in the NHL. Since returning to the league in the summer of 2018, Kovalchuk will be on his second team. This will be the fourth team Kovalchuk has been a part of in his 13-year NHL career. Before signing with the Canadiens, his previous stops were with the Atlanta Thrashers, New Jersey Devils, and Los Angeles Kings.
It has been a tremulous ride back to the NHL for Kovalchuk. After retiring from the NHL back in 2013, Kovalchuk spent the next four years playing in Russia for SKA St. Petersburg. During the 2017-18 season, Kovalchuk announced he wanted to come back to the NHL. In that season he won an Olympic Gold Medal in 2018 as a member of the Olympic Athletes From Russia team. The following summer Kovalchuk signed a three-year, $18.75 million contract with the Kings.
Things went south this season for Kings and Kovalchuk. He had not seen the ice since November and there were rumblings he wanted out of town. On Monday, December 16th, the Kings put Kovalchuk on unconditional waivers to terminate his contract. Even though the Kings had paid out his bonus money, the organization is still on the hook for his $6.25 million this season and next. Kovalchuk cleared waivers the following Tuesday and was a free-agent to be. However, general manager Marc Bergevin has had success with restoring former Russian starts to former glory, especially Alexander Radulov.
What The Future Holds
In his stint with the Kings, Kovalchuk played in 81 games accumulating 19 goals and 24 assists. In 17 games this season, Kovalchuk recorded three goals and six assists averaging about 15 minutes of ice time. The 36-year old still has something left to give to an organization. He is one of the purest goal scorers the league has ever seen.
While his skating has slowed down some, he can still be an asset to a team that needs scoring, especially one like Montreal. Kovalchuk can be a specialist for the said hockey club. Put him out on the power play and let him rip shots on the opposing goaltender. Kovalchuk has been on the decline and the writing was on the wall in the 2018 Winter Olympics. He started as a top-six forward and finished more as a role player. That is all that he is now, but that is ok for a team looking to add depth scoring to make a push towards the Stanley Cup.
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