Just two days off of the 2017-18 NHL season ending and things are already getting interesting in the free agency area.
Ilya Kovalchuk in California this weekend. Visited with the LA Kings yesterday and will meet with the Sharks tomorrow.— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) June 9, 2018
Kovalchuk’s rights, until this April, had belonged to the New Jersey Devils, as a repercussion of the monster 15-year deal he signed with them in 2010.
The 34-year-old is coming off a very productive season with SKA St. Petersburg this year. In 53 games played, Kovalchuk recorded 31 goals and 32 assists, to combine for 63 points, and first place on SKA’s all-time points leaderboard.
Kovalchuk also had a stint with Russia — oh, right, the Olympic Athletes of Russia — in the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang. He put up five goals and two assists in the competition, helping to earn his first Olympic gold medal.
The signing of Kovalchuk would be a very interesting one. The Sharks have four forward over the age of thirty facing free agency in Joe Thornton, Joel Ward, Eric Fehr, and Jannik Hansen. His age could certainly play a factor, making it unknown if he can replicate his KHL production in his second stint in the NHL and he may ask for more money than players whose worth is already known to the Sharks organization. Beyond that, if those players are going to be replaced, it shouldn’t be with someone their age and signing Kovalchuk could potentially bump somebody like Marcus Sorensen or Rudolfs Balcers, for instance, to the press box or back down to the Barracuda.
There’s still plenty of time before things get interesting.