Los Angeles Kings free agent signee Ilya Kovalchuk finally spoke to the media today after agreeing to sign a three-year, $18.75MM deal with the Kings on June 23. The 35-year-old superstar has now spent the past five years in the KHL, putting up some great numbers and has made it clear that he believes that despite his age, he has three or four good years left in him, according to Fox Sports’ Jon Rosen.
The winger said one of his main reasons for choosing the Kings was because he wanted to play next to a high-end center like Anze Kopitar. Kovalchuk could be a perfect complement to Kopitar. The 35-year-old has been playing some of the best hockey of his career, posting 63 goals in his last two KHL seasons as well as winning MVP for Team Russia in the Olympics this past year.
Kovalchuk also believes he is young for 35, but declined to say that he could put up a 30-goal season next season, according to Helene St. James of the Los Angeles Times. Kovalchuk last posted a 30-goal season in the NHL back in the 2011-12 season when he scored 37.
- Sticking with the Kings, Lisa Dillman of The Athletic (subscription required) does a Q&A with head coach John Stevens, who says that the Kings had no choice, but to place more responsibility on young players on their defense. The team has five veterans to hold down the core of the defense in Drew Doughty, Jake Muzzin, Alec Martinez, Dion Phaneuf and Derek Forbort. However, the team will have to rely on younger players, like Paul Ladue, Daniel Brickley and Kurtis MacDermid to fill out the rest of the roster. “There comes a point in time especially with the [salary] cap where you’ve got so many young guys. You have to make decisions,” Stevens said.
- Jason Brough of The Athletic (subscription required) writes that after assessing the offseason in which the team spent money on multiple bottom-six forwards, the Vancouver Canucks are putting all their success next season on the scoring ability of their young prospects. For one, the team lost three of the team’s top five scorers and now besides Bo Horvat and Brock Boeser, the team will need to get increased scoring output from other forwards, including Elias Pettersson, Sven Baertschi, Nikolay Goldobin, Brendan Leipsic and Jake Virtanen. If they can’t make up for that offense, it should be another long season.
- Eric Stephens of The Athletic (subscription required) looks at the Anaheim Ducks salary cap situation now and in one year from now to see if it will improve. Unfortunately the Ducks will not have much in terms of bad contracts that will come off the books in a year and the team will have to deal with other salary cap challenges instead. The team must deal with the cost of bringing back forwards Adam Henrique and Jakob Silfverberg, who will be unrestricted free agents as well as goaltender John Gibson, who will be a restricted free agent.