After a brief stint in Montreal, Ilya Kovalchuk is on the move once again.
The Capitals acquired the veteran sniper Sunday night, sending a 2020 third-round draft pick to the Canadiens in return. After struggling to find his footing in Los Angeles (43 points in 81 games), Kovalchuk experienced a resurgence with 13 points — including three game-winners — with Montreal this season.
Washington Capitals get:
Ilya Kovalchuk, LW
Now 36, the winger will team up with fellow Russian Alex Ovechkin in Washington as the team looks to win its second Stanley Cup in three years. The two have been international teammates several times, most recently winning a bronze medal for Russia at last year’s IIHF World Championship.
According to TSN’s Pierre LeBrun, Montreal retained 50 percent of Kovalchuk’s league-minimum salary and cap hit. That’s big for the Capitals, who had limited cap space to work with ahead of Monday’s 3 p.m. ET trade deadline.
The fact that Washington managed to squeeze in another offensive threat for a playoff run while staying under the cap, can only be a good thing. They’ve struggled as of late, posting a 3-6-1 record in their last 10 games and an 18th-best 2.80 GF/GP. Over the course of the season, however, they are one of the top teams in the NHL with 3.47 GF/GP, and he’s now just another cog for their offensive machine coming at a low-risk with a potentially high-reward.
Washington trade grade: A-
OVECHKIN: 700 | Top 7 goals | Twitter reacts | Catching Gretzky
Montreal Canadiens get:
2020 third-round draft pick
For the Canadiens, it’s another trade to stockpile draft picks after a disappointing season thus far. Sitting six points back of the Maple Leafs for the final playoff spot in the Atlantic Division, Montreal’s postseason hopes are hanging by a thread and they look increasingly like “sellers” ahead of the deadline. They also recently traded away Marco Scandella, whose brief stint in Montreal ended when the Blues acquired him for a 2020 second-round pick and 2021 conditional sixth-round pick last week.
Montreal took a chance on Kovalchuk when they signed him, hoping he could add an offensive threat once removed from LA. He played well in Montreal — showing a reignition of his passion — but with next to no chance at making the playoffs there was no reason to keep him around past the deadline. A third-round pick for an aging winger has to be considered good business. GM Marc Bergevin will have quite a haul following June’s draft with 13 picks, six in the first three rounds.
Montreal trade grade: B
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