#27 / Right Wing / Ottawa Senators
Feb 24, 1973
$5M, UFA at end of season, No-Movement Clause.
Has incredible offensive talent and can take over a game if he wants to. A streaky scorer who when he's on, he's on big time. Can score goals in bunches and can be a deadly option on the power play. A proven playoff performer. His stats in the postseason are better than his regular season ones (0.79 PTS/GP in the regular season, 0.84 in the playoffs). Had 21 points in 22 playoff games over four seasons in Montreal. Has a pilot's license.
Has incredible offensive talent and can take over a game if he wants to. A streaky scorer who when he's on, he's on big time. The very things that make Kovalev's game a huge pro are also what make him a huge con. He's so inconsistent and unpredictable that you don't know when Kovalev is going to play to his potential. He's old enough that it's obvious he won't change, and the key will be finding a GM still willing to take a chance on him. There doesn't appear to be any logic behind whether or not he'll show up, and that's precisely what gives him the enigma label.
Moderate. He's perfect as a rental player, and if he keeps putting up points hoping to help get himself a lucrative contract in the summer, he could be appealing to many GMs. Still, even if he's appealing, it's impossible to know for sure which Kovalev you would be trading for. That brings down his value considerably.
High. While Kovalev has a NMC, the odds of him vetoing a deal are slim to none. It's pretty obvious that he's unhappy in Ottawa, and any scenario that would send him to a contender is likely to be appealing to him. Kovalev's enigmatic tendencies could ward off potential suitors. One thing worth noting is that if Bryan Murray hangs on to Kovalev until the last minute hoping for a better return, he runs the risk of other GMs deciding to move on to looking toward different players instead.
Two of the rumoured teams in the Eastern Conference who might have interest in Kovalev - and who Kovalev might have interest in being traded to - are the Pittsburgh Penguins and Montreal Canadiens, both teams Kovalev has history with. Montreal would have to move a player to accommodate Kovalev's cap hit, while the Penguins have enough space free already. If the price is low enough, a team like the Atlanta Thrashers might be interested in taking on Kovalev in an effort to make a final push at a playoff spot.
In the Western Conference, the two most likely destinations are the Los Angeles Kings and Anaheim Ducks, with the Calgary Flames being the dark horse candidate. The Kings and Ducks could take Kovalev without moving other players, while the Flames would have to dump salary to fit him in.
Given his unpredictability, Kovalev will probably not yield an optimal return. The very slimmest of chances could see Ottawa getting a low first-round pick, but that would take a very desperate GM from another team. If it's a straight-up trade, expect a third-round pick or average prospect, or a fourth-round pick and average prospect. If Ottawa's willing to take on a bad contract, the draft pick could go as high as a second-rounder. Basically, expect more of what we've seen Bryan Murray do so far.