Laughlin on Kovalchuk: 'Once a goal scorer, always a goal scorer'

Chris Lingebach
February 28, 2020 - 8:32 pm

Something maybe overlooked about the Capitals acquiring Ilya Kovalchuk, Craig Laughlin says, is it makes Washington one of two NHL teams with two 50-goal scorers on its roster.

Now, Kovalchuk hasn't scored 50 goals since the 2007-08 season when playing for the now-defunct Atlanta Thrashers.

And that's almost exactly Locker's point: The numbers may dwindle, but ability doesn't.

"They're now one of I think two teams that have two 50-goal scorers," Laughlin said during his weekly 106.7 The Fan appearance, presented by American Standard Heating & Air Conditioning. "The other's Pittsburgh in (Evgeni) Malkin and (Sidney) Crosby."

Host Danny Rouhier was having trouble making sense of the deal, saying, "I mean, if this was 2012, 2013, I would be over-the-moon excited, but it's hard to tell right now, Locker. I just don't know."

"What I see in this whole deal is it comes out to be very little money, I think under a hundred grand that's actually costing the Caps towards their Cap, number one," Laughlin said. "Number two, he's a guy that has a real high level of offense, and he still does. You don't lose that, guys. Like I talk to people all the time. You're either born with it, or you're not gonna be ever as good as the guys are. I call them natural goal scorers."

"It's so funny because I'm just coming from MedStar where I interviewed Ovi about his 700," he continued. "And I said, 'Have you always been a natural goal scorer?' He said, 'Craig, yes. I've scored since I was a young kid. And I always loved scoring and I always had a knack around the net.'

"That's what Kovalchuk brings, and to me, they're craving the bottom six to score more. I think he's an instant add and he's an instant positive, because (Richard) Panik, who came over in the summer, hasn't delivered the type of offense that I wanted to see. I thought he'd be so many more goals, and he's under 10 now."

Panik's tallied 16 points in 54 games this season on seven goals and nine assists. Kovalchuk's arrival has since bumped him down to the fourth line, as Kovy has joined Carl Hagelin and Lars Eller on the third.

"You have Hags, who skates like the wind," Laughlin said. "He's picked up his offense lately. You've got big Eller. And to me now, the Capitals have a very good complimentary third line, and that's what I see."

"And I understand what you're saying Danny about I wish it was 10 years ago," he said. "But I'm telling you this: You don't lose offense. Once a goal scorer, always a goal scorer. Can he still get there? The thing about Kovalchuk, yes he can. He may not be as quick as he was back in the Thrashers days, but he's an upgrade to what the Capitals needed to add."