The Washington Capitals have acquired forward Ilya Kovalchuk from the Montreal Canadiens in exchange for a third-round pick in the 2020 NHL Entry Draft.
“Ilya is a talented offensive player who we feel will provide us with additional depth and flexibility up front,” said Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan. “He is a skilled forward who can make plays and contribute to our offensive game.”
Kovalchuk spent just 22 games in Montreal after he was acquired after his tenure ended in Los Angeles. He was signed to a one year deal worth $700,000.
The Canadiens will retain half of that salary and cap hit.
Kovalchuk had 13 points in his 22 games with the Habs, plus nine points in 17 games with the Kings before he hit the waiver wire.
Without question, the Capitals will be looking to find some more offensive firepower from Kovalchuk. He’ll be useful on the power play in particular.
Kovalchuk is fourth in goal-scoring among active players, putting him behind new teammate Alex Ovechkin as well as Patrick Marleau and Sidney Crosby.
At the time of the trade, Montreal is six points out of a playoff spot. The Capitals are atop the Metropolitan Division and will be making a major push to repeat as Stanley Cup champs.
This is Kovalchuk’s third team this season, but he should be a top-six forward in Washington. He’ll have a lot to prove, which will push his game to the next level as he joins a true Cup contender. Having the chance to shut down the doubters and prove the Kings wrong will give him extra motivation going forward.
Kovalchuk, the number one draft pick of the Atlanta Thrashers in the 2001 NHL Entry Draft, has 872 points in 919 career games. He’s skated with the Thrashers, New Jersey Devils, Kings, and Habs and has collected 442 goals. He also has 27 points in 32 playoff games and has been in the Stanley Cup Final before when he was with the Devils.
The trade comes ahead of Monday’s trade deadline. We’ll have limited coverage of the deals to come, as well as more complete analysis as teams solidify their playoff personnel.
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