The 38-18-6 Washington Capitals continue to improve their team, as they traded a 3rd round pick to the Montreal Canadiens in exchange for Ilya Kovalchuk. Kovalchuk may get a chance to play with his fellow countryman and close friend Alex Ovechkin, who just scored his 700th career NHL goal this weekend.
Ilya Kovalchuk has spent time with two NHL teams this season, as he played 17 games with the Los Angeles Kings before being signed to a two-way contract by Montreal on January 3rd. In those 17 games with LA, Kovalchuk had 3 goals and 6 assists in 9 games. He was -10 during that span +/- wise. With Montreal, he has played 22 games and registered 6 goals and 7 assists for 13 points. He was +6 +/- wise in that span. His combined giveaway/takeaway ratio is 25:9 and his combined penalty taken/drawn ratio is an impressive 7:9. Kovalchuk has a -2.53 career AB score over 7-year sample size. He has only registered one positive AB season in his career and is coming off four straight negative seasons. Last season was Kovalchuk’s 2nd worst AB score of his career at -5.24.
Montreal will be retaining half of Kovalchuk’s league-minimum salary to make the money work for the cap-crunched Capitals. Washington will be the 4th team Kovalchuk is taking up cap space on, as he is currently on New Jersey’s, Montreal’s, LA’s, and now Washington’s payroll.
This is the 2nd move GM Brian MacLellan has made to improve his team this deadline season, as he traded a 2nd round pick to the San Jose Sharks in exchange for Brenden Dillon, who is coming off a fight against Evgeni Malkin on Sunday afternoon’s game against the Pittsburgh Penguins, in which the Capitals took control over 1st place in the Metropolitan Division by two points, with Pittsburgh having a game in hand. In his three games with the Capitals, Dillon has six penalty minutes and 0 points.
Due to the fact that Washington insisted Montreal retain half of Kovalchuk’s league minimum salary, we believe that MacLellan and his team are probably done making significant trades this deadline season. The Caps are 3-6-1 in their last 10 games and hope that Kovalchuk could ignite their offense. It would be so much fun to see an all-Russian line centered by Evgeny Kuznetsov, with Alex Ovechkin and Ilya Kovalchuk on opposite wings, and we hope this becomes a reality at some point down the stretch. Much more to come, as there are only a few hours remaining until the 2020 trade deadline at 3pm Eastern.