The Montreal Canadiens and their general manager Marc Bergevin have just pulled off a very shrewd move.
According to a breaking news report from the Washington Capitals, the Capitals have acquired Russian star forward Ilya Kovalchuk from the Habs in exchange for a third round draft pick at the 2020 National Hockey League Entry Draft. This is a great return for the Canadiens who signed Kovalchuk for the league minimum salary just a few short weeks ago after he agreed to terminate his contract with the Los Angeles Kings.
Kovalchuk will now join fellow Russian stars Evgeny Kuznetsov and Alexander Ovechkin, the Washington Capitals captain, for the Capitals upcoming playoff run and no doubt many are looking forward to seeing the kind of damage these men can do together on the ice. It will also represent another opportunity for Kovalchuk to continue to show that his time with the Los Angeles Kings was not a true representation of what he can bring to an NHL team, all the while giving him the opportunity to compete for hockey's holy grail, the Stanley Cup.
Although Kovalchuk had a rough time of things during his time in Los Angeles with the Kings, he has since demonstrated that he can definitely still bring it in the NHL. Kovalchuk joined the Canadiens as a free agent and quickly established himself as a fan favorite, recording 6 goals and 7 assists for a combined total of 13 points over his 22 games with the Habs, finishing that stretch of play with a plus minus rating of +6 in spite of the fact that the team around him struggled at times. It proved to be something of a revival for Kovalchuk and no doubt played a factor in him drawing interest ahead of the NHL trade deadline and no doubt bolstered the return the Habs were able to get for him today.
Additionally the fact that he is now on an extremely team friendly contract has made him a viable option for Stanley Cup Contenders, which no doubt was the plan all along. This is one gamble by the Montreal Canadiens that has proven to pay big dividends for the team.