Capitals acquire Ilya Kovalchuk on the cheap from Montreal

Chris Lingebach
February 24, 2020 - 12:00 pm

Capitals fans are lauding GM Brian MacLellan for pulling off another savvy trade before the deadline, acquiring Ilya Kovalchuk from Montreal in exchange for a 2020 third-round pick.

Kovalchuk, who is playing on a one-year, $700,000 contract, comes in extremely affordable to Washington, as Montreal has agreed to absorb 50 percent of Kovalchuk's remaining salary and cap hit. In total, Kovalchuk will reportedly only cost the Capitals approx. $78,000.

Kovalchuk, 36, has spent the past two seasons between Montreal and Los Angeles after returning from the KHL, where he spent six seasons after famously abandoning the NHL during its lockout-shortened 2012-13 season. Kovalchuk briefly returned to the NHL, finishing out the season with the Devils, but elected to go back to the KHL thereafter.

Kovalchuk announced he'd be returning to the NHL after the 2017-18 season.

Kovalchuk has been productive as a third-liner for the Canadiens, with 13 points on six goals and seven assists in 22 games. On the season, Kovalchuk – who signed with Montreal on Jan. 3, after having his contract bought out by the Kings in December – has registered 22 points (9 goals, 13 assists) in 39 games. He's registered 56 points (25 goals, 31 assists) over two seasons since returning to the NHL.

Even better news for the Caps, it shouldn't take Kovalchuk too long to develop chemistry with his new team. Kovalchuk has long played with Alex Ovechkin on Russia's national team. Already close friends, they even spent Christmas Day together two months ago.

marry christmas!

A post shared by Alexander Ovechkin (@aleksandrovechkinofficial) on

Even more good news, Kovalchuk wanted to be here.

The Caps have moved quickly in advance of the NHL trade deadline, which arrives Monday at 3 p.m. ET. Washington also bolstered its defense with its acquisition of Brenden Dillon in a trade with San Jose last week. Dillon has already made an impact, gaining particular favor with Caps fans after punking Evgeni Malkin in Sunday's 5-3 win over Pittsburgh.

Kovalchuk will continue to wear No. 17 – the number he's worn his entire NHL career – for the Capitals.