The Washington Capitals have acquired forward Ilya Kovalchuk from the Montreal Canadiens in exchange for a 2020 3rd round draft pick. The Canadiens retained 50% of Kovalchuk\’s league minimum salary.
Kovalchuk started 2019-20 with the Kings, in his second season since returning from the KHL. It didn\’t work out in L.A., and he was bought out. He signed a league minimum deal with Montreal and has been solid since. He is old, and a pending free agent. He is a decent middle-six winger. While the player who scored 40 goals six times and 50 goals twice doesn\’t exist anymore, Kovalchuk has connections to the Capitals. Head Coach Todd Reirden was a teammate of Kovalchuk during Kovalchuk\’s rookie season of 2001-02. That was Reirden\’s only season in Atlanta. Kovalchuk was also teammates with captain Alex Ovechkin at the 2006, 2010 and 2014 Winter Olympics, among other international competition. The Canadiens retain some of Kovalchuk\’s salary, as the Capitals are up against the salary cap, and anything helps. They get a third round pick for him, decent for a midseason free agent signing.
Kovalchuk, 36, has scored nine goals with 13 assists for 22 points in 39 games for the Canadiens and Los Angeles Kings this year. In his NHL career for the Canadiens, Kings, New Jersey Devils and Atlanta Thrashers, the 2001 1st overall pick has scored 442 goals with 430 assists for 872 points in 919 games.