TSN'S Darren Dreger appeared on radio in Montreal Tuesday morning where some Bruins related news came from it. According to Dreger, the Bruins are one of nine teams interested in signing free agent and NHL returnee Ilya Kovalchuk. Dreger says the Bruins, Ducks, Blues, Stars, Islanders, Sharks, Kings, Rangers and Red Wings are in play for the 35-year old winger.
Later Tuesday, The Athletic's Pierre LeBrun shed some more light on the topic,
naming the Bruins as one of the top contenders to sign in the veteran. LeBrun also names the Kings, who met with the Kovalchuk camp on Friday, the Rangers and the Sharks, who met with Kovalchuk and company on Monday as the favorites.
Kovalchuk has appeared in 816 NHL games across 10 seasons between the Atlanta Thrashers and New Jersey Devils. In those 816 games, Kovalchuk has 816 points.
Because of the lockout that erased most of the 2012-13 NHL season, Kovalchuk went back to his native land of Russia, signing a contract with SKA St. Petersburg of the KHL during the lockout. Kovalchuk did return to the Devils shortly after the lockout ended, playing in 37 games for the Devils. In July of 2013, Kovalchuk officially decided to retire from the NHL.
Following his departure from the NHL, Kovalchuk signed a four-year deal with SKA St. Petersburg where he had 327 points in 299 games. Last season he led the league in points with 63.
Sweeney spoke with the Boston Globe on Tuesday
and confirmed that he indeed has talked to Kovalchuk and his camp.
“I’ve been in contact with his group, for obvious reasons…about 230 pounds and still scores goals. He is 35, so you have to factor that in, but he brings a lot to the table," Sweeney told the Globe. “I hope he looks at [the Bruins] and says, “That’s a team I’d be interested in. He indicated that, but you know, until I get a chance to sit with him, I won’t know that exactly.”
Teams are free to talk to Kovalchuk as much as and when they want, but no team is allowed to officially sign Kovlachuk until free agency begins at noon on July 1st.
Kovalchuk has said he wants to return to the NHL with a Stanley Cup contender, and based off of the teams Dreger reports are interested in Kovalchuk, the Bruins seem like one of the most logical destinations.
The Bruins are in need of top-six help, a role Kovalchuk has played throughout his entire NHL career. Dreger reports that Kovalchuk is seeking a deal in the neighborhood of three-years and $6 million annually. A performance bonus heavy contract, paying the veteran in the $5-6 million range should work for both sides should they see fit.
A right-handed shot, Kovalchuk has played both left and right wing in his career, with more games on the left side than the right.
With Rick Nash facing free agency, the Bruins are in need of some veteran help. Their need for a veteran and a right-shot winger makes this report more understandable.
Signing Kovalchuk would give the Bruins some flexibility on their top two lines. They could keep the trio of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak together, and put Kovalchuk to either the right or left of David Krejci. Putting Kovalchuk on the left side would force Jake Debrusk to move to the right side, his off-wing.
Their other option would be to drop Pastrnak down to a line with DeBrusk and Krejci, while placing Kovalchuk alongside Marchand and Bergeron.
The Bruins have needs and Kovalchuk wants to play for a Stanley Cup contender. Sounds like there's a fit for the veteran in Boston. Dreger's report only makes July 1st much more interesting.