The Los Angeles Kings have officially cut ties with veteran forward Ilya Kovalchuk. Kovalchuk has played 14 seasons in the NHL, nine of which he scored 30 or more goals. At the age of 36 a lot of people think Kovalchuk is done in the NHL, but he thinks otherwise. Is it worth the Bruins time to bring in Kovalchuk in an attempt to solve their everlasting secondary scoring issue? I think so.
No money? No problem.
According to TSN’s Darren Dregar, Ilya Kovalchuk still wants to play at the NHL level. He is even willing to take the veteran’s minimum to play with a cup contender. With the Bruins currently sitting in second place behind the Capitols in the points race in the Eastern Conference, as well as in the league points race, the Bruins have certainly put themselves in a spot to contend for a cup so far this season.
The Bruins currently have very little cap space. Even if he’s willing to take the veterans minimum, in order to bring in Ilya Kovalchuk, the Bruins would have to send somebody down to Providence, which would require most players going through waivers to get there. The only player on the Bruins roster who is currently waiver exempt is Anders Bjork. With the level of Bjorks play so far this season in the NHL, I think the only way he gets sent down is if Don Sweeney doesn’t want to risk losing a player through waivers. Aside from Bjork, I think Par Lindholm and Brett Ritchie are both worthy of demotions to Providence at this point.
Low risk/High reward
Losing Brett Ritchie or Par Lindholm wont be a very big loss for the Bruins. They are both two players who have small roles and who have both contributed very little to the success of the Bruins this season. With Zach Senyshyn returning to play, and Karson Kuhlman being closer to returning, both players are good enough to replace Ritchie or Lindholm at the NHL level. That is if the Kovalchuk experiment doesn’t turn out. If it does, then all is well for the Bruins. Another convenient thing about one of Lindholm or Ritchie being sent down would be the fact that both are forwards like Kovalchuk. That saves the Bruins from overloading one position, or possibly thinning themselves out on the blueline.
While its very unlikely that Ilya Kovalchuk gets back to his elite puck moving, goal scoring days, at the very least the awareness and experience that Kovalchuk has when it comes to finding ways to put the puck in the net are worth it alone.
The worst that comes out of this whole potential scenario is that Kovalchuk doesn’t pan out, and the Bruins lost whoever they might choose to send down via waivers. Even if they do lost one of Ritchie or Lindholm, it would free up a roster spot for Zach Senyshyn or Karson Kuhlman. Either way, in my opinion, for the veteran minimum contract for just the rest of the season, this is a no brainer: Give Kovy a shot to redeem himself.
Credit to pucksandpitchforks.com for the cover photo.