In a move that many believed was coming, the Montreal Canadiens have trade forward Ilya Kovalchuk. Kovalchuk was moved to the Washington Capitals for a third-round pick.
The deal will see Washington’s third-rounder in 2020 go to the Canadiens.
We recently wrote:
Ilya Kovalchuk is a rental that, at this point, is about as likely to move as he is to stay. That’s he’s not discussed any kind of extension with the team is telling and with the returns coming back to teams who have already made deals, Kovalchuk could fetch anywhere from a second-round pick to a fourth.
Kovalchuk started the season with the Los Angeles Kings but quickly fell out of favor with the coaching staff and organization. He was often a healthy scratch and the team waited for the remainder of his signing bonus was paid out before the two sides agreed to a mutual contract termination. From there, he became a free agent and the only team willing to take a chance on him was Montreal.
Interesting to note, the Canadiens retained 50% of Kovalchuk’s salary in the trade which means they likely had to do so to get as high as the third-rounder. Other teams likely offer a fourth instead.
Kovalchuk’s Time with the Canadiens
Immediately, when Kovalchuk hit the ice in Montreal, he lit it up, exploding for offense and showing everyone in the NHL they shouldn’t have passed him over. He immediately became the topic of trade conversation and a few teams were rumored to be interested, although the Capitals were not often a team discussed in those conversations.
He’ll likely only be a rental for Washington after failing to come to terms on an extension in Montreal. When all is said and done, Kovalchuk will probably look to sign a one-year, bonus-heavy contract with a contender over the summer.
Elliotte Friedman suggested the other night on Hockey Night in Canada that Kovalchuk might want to return to the Canadiens next season- and he could. While he’s with the Capitals, he provides another scorer that will take some of the pressure off Ovechkin who scored his 700th goal in a recent game.
Related: Connor McDavid Returns, Plus Mike Green to Oilers Deadline Buzz
Of note is that the Canadiens retained half of Kovalchuk’s salary, which was at a league-minimum $700,000. All in all, it was an interesting trade and we can only speculate what the thinking was. Kovalchuk’s a perfect rental if there is such a thing. It will be interesting to see what happens after this season.
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