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MONTREAL REPORTEDLY NO LONGER INTERESTED IN BRINGING BACK ILYA KOVALCHUK

When the Montreal Canadiens first signed former star Ilya Kovalchuk fresh off his buy-out from the LA Kings, the scenario seemed like a no-brainer. Kovalchuk was signed at the NHL minimum and the money was pro-rated for the number of games left in the season. Even if he hadn't produced at all, it was no big deal. He did produce, though and it appeared Kovalchuk really loved the city of Montreal and the fans certainly had an affinity for him. Fast forward to the trade deadline, the Habs shipped Kovalchuk to the Washington Capitals for a third-round draft pick. Again, a no-brainer. The Habs were well outside of a playoff spot with little chance of getting in (COVID-19 threw a monkey wrench into everything, of course, and the rest is history).

Following Kovalchuk's trade to Washington, the consensus among analysts was that he'd be brought back to Montreal for the 2020-21 season, likely on a low-cost, one-year contract. That, however, no longer seems to be the case. The Russian betting site MetaRatings is reporting that the Habs are no longer interested in bringing Kovalchuk back. In fact, it's also reporting that Edmonton was also interested at one point in signing Kovalchuk for the upcoming season but have abandoned the negotiations. While it's difficult to account for the credibility of MetaRatings info, the story has been picked up by a large number of Russian sports sites.



With the increased presence of younger players like Nick Suzuki and Jesperi Kotkaniemi for Montreal in the playoffs, it makes sense that the Canadiens' interest in 37-year-old Kovalchuk would wane. There's also the issue of his playoff performance with Washington. After getting four points (1 goal and three assists) in seven regular season games with the Caps, Kovalchuk pretty much disappeared in the post season, managing just one assist in eight games. Montreal has also already made some moves this offseason, picking up goaltender Jake Allen from the St. Louis Blues and defenceman Joel Edmundson from Carolina, who was immediately signed to a contract extension. The team does need a scoring winger, but it's doubtful Kovalchuk could provide the fire power it's looking for.

TIM TUCKER
SEPTEMBER 22, 2020  (8H59)