Could Kovalchuk Wind up a Montreal Canadien?

In 2013, Ilya Kovalchuk, the guy who’s been called the best natural scorer the NHL has ever seen, decided to retire from the series only 3 seasons to some 15-year deal with the New Jersey Devils and head back to Russia to perform the remainder of his professional career in the KHL. Well, do not call it a comeback, however the 34-year-old Kovie is contemplating a return to North America for the 2017-18 regular season.
The Russian sniper, who gathered 816 points in 816 career games played in the NHL, has played parts of the last four seasons for SKA Saint Petersburg and is coming off a year where he gathered 78 points in 60 games — good for second in the league in scoring.
Though there’s a slew of hurdles to clear if Kovie wants to play for a team other than New Jersey, BetOnline thinks there is a 4/1 possibility he begins the 2017-18 NHL season on the roster of the Montreal Canadiens.
In order for Kovalchuk to have rid as a free agent, every NHL team (including New Jersey) would have to reevaluate his unrestricted release from the Devils and I’m not so sure that is realistic. The Devils got seriously screwed from the Kovie retirement and it’s unlikely they will need him scoring goals against them for free. What could happen, however, is that the Devils (who still own his rights) concur to his return, sign him promptly trade him to another group.
As for the potential of the prior Maurice”Rocket” Richard Trophy winner winding up with the Habs — it creates a lot of sense. Former KHLer Alex Radulov combined the Canadiens last offseason on a one-piece bargain and it looks like they’ll try hard to re-sign him. Radulov has hinted that he’d like general manager Marc Bergevin to make a run at Kovalchuk and given the Habs’ serious problems at the offensive end, Kovie could be just what le physician ordered.
Montreal already has a strong Russian contingent with the above Radulov, Alex Galchenyuk, Andrei Markov and Mikhail Sergachev on the roster and also an all-Ruski forward line of Kovie-Gally-Rad would be amazing to see.
All that said, the transaction to acquire Kovalchuk from the Devils would be a tough one to negotiate and it’d likely demand the Habs to give up a blue-liner and a future draft pick or two. There would also be a ton of other clubs in the race to scoop up the marksman of 417 NHL goals so by no means will this be a simple effort for Habs’ brass to accomplish, and recall all this is under the assumption that the Russian winger even decides to return at all.

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