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Kovalchuk to Return to Montreal Canadiens?

Could Ilya Kovalchuk return to the Montreal Canadiens next season? One scribe, Eric Engels, certainly thinks so.

Sportsnet’s Eric Engels recently mentioned, in two separate articles, that he believes, it’s all but assured winger Ilya Kovalchuk will return to the Montreal Canadiens on a bonus-laden deal next season.

What the value of that deal would be or if talks of Kovalchuk returning were part of his trade to the Washington Capitals is unclear but Engels cites comments from Kovalchuk on his way out saying this was “not goodbye, for sure.”

Kovalchuk was moved to the Washington Capitals at this season’s trade deadline but has only played in seven games, scoring one goal and three assists. Obviously, had he continued playing and built chemistry with a couple of the Capitals stars, it could be a different story as increased production would mean better value on any future deals. A player like Kovalchuk (who will likely sign one-year contracts until he retires) need to main his production to keep getting offered extensions.

That said, in Montreal, he revived his NHL career and had 13 points in 22 games, often being the team’s top offensive weapon. As the Canadiens try to jump into the unrestricted free agent market this summer (assuming it is the summer free agency opens), they’ll be looking at balancing out bigger-ticket items with players like Kovalchuk who will make the league minimum. Among their bigger needs is a backup goaltender for Carey Price.

And, if the regular season and playoffs don’t resume, it’s like Montreal remains the best option for Kovalchuk because they saw first hand what he can do.

Related: Why Was Roberto Luongo the Best Vancouver Canucks’ Goalie of All Time?



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