Kovalchuk Non-Committal to Signing With Habs

He came back to the NHL to win a Stanley Cup. He signed with the… Los Angeles Kings. Things turned sour, to the point of being a healthy scratch before being sent home waiting for a decision. The Kings eventually waved him with the purpose of terminating his contract, which they did. The phone wasn’t ringing off the hook when Montreal Canadiens’ GM made the call. Ilya Kovalchuk had the opportunity to prove that the experience in Los Angeles was just a hiccup, that he still had some good hockey left in him. Desperate, he signed a two-way deal paying him $70,000 in the AHL and $700,000 at the… NHL level, barely over minimum wage for a NHL player.

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Trade Kovalchuk? Re-Sign him? Both?

In a season where Montreal Canadiens’ fans don’t have much to celebrate about, the signing of former NHL star Ilya Kovalchuk by team General Manager Marc Bergevin feels like a breath of fresh air. Brought in to help provide a warm body during a plague of injuries hitting the Habs, the Russian right winger has delivered more than anyone could have expected so far.

We know the story. Kovalchuk wanted to come back to the NHL and signed a 3-year contract with the Los Angeles Kings paying him an average of $6.25 million. In his first season back to the NHL, the 6-foot 3-inches 222 lbs winger managed 16 goals and 34 points in 64 games, playing an average of 16:14 minutes per game, with a team worst minus -26 differential amongst Kings’ forwards. This season did not start well between Kovalchuk and the Kings either as he only had three goals in 17 games and was already minus -10, going as far as being a healthy scratch. Los Angeles decided to keep him away from the team until they made the decision to buy him out. He played his last game with the Kings on November 9th and his contract was finally bought out on December 17th.

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