Tonight the Washington Capitals announced that they have acquired forward Ilya Kovalchuk from the Montreal Canadiens for a 2020 Third Round Pick, and boy this is not a good trade at all.
So essentially the Capitals traded away a draft pick for a guy who is known for his lack backchecking skills and is more of a scorer, or lack thereof these days since coming back from the KHL, and is really just a right handed shot for the right wing. Ok… Great.
Since coming back from the KHL Kovalchuk has been injury prone, and you can clearly tell that he’s lost a step or two. Also he is known for not wanting to play defense, and in a very tight and physical Metropolitan Division this makes no sense. Now I know many are applauding this trade because we now have a right handed shot on the right wing, but there are better players the Capitals could chase than Kovalchuk. Last season in his first season back in the NHL, Kovalchuk would net 16 goals for 34 points in 64 games on a Los Angeles Kings team that has been going downhill for some time. Then this season he only played 17 games where he would score 3 goals for nine points before the Kings essentially told him to stay home until after they paid his bonus so they could terminate his contract. In his time with the Kings Kovalchuk would also be a -36. That’s horrible.
After having his contract terminated by the Kings, Kovalchuk would sign with the Montreal Canadiens, and while he would produce better numbers with the Canadiens (6g, 7a, 13p in 22 games), and actually back check, he was a big fish on a team that doesn’t have a lot of talent either. With the Capitals, just like with the Canadiens, he’ll have a better plus/minus (+6 with Montreal this season), but it still won’t hide the fact that he’ll be a liability.
Can Kovalchuk still score goals, yes, but with a career -146 plus/minus the Capitals are better off without him. But hey, the Canadiens are retaining 50% of Kovalchuk’s salary so the Capitals are essentially paying him $75,000.
And Kovalchuk is on a two way deal, so in theory the Capitals could bury him in the AHL which would be a smarter decision, despite losing a draft pick for him.
The Capitals better go deep in the playoffs and Kovalchuk better perform because as of right now, this is a horrible trade for the Capitals.
*Feature graphic courtesy of the Washington Capitals.