By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com
GM Don Sweeney has confirmed the Boston Bruins' interest in free-agent winger Ilya Kovalchuk.
As he told Matt Porter of the Boston Globe, Sweeney has already communicated with Kovalchuk's reps about the Bruins' interest in signing the veteran forward, who intends to return to the NHL after five full seasons in the KHL.
"I’ve been in contact with his group," Sweeney told the Globe on Kovalchuk. "For obvious reasons — about 230 pounds and still scores goals. He is 35, so you have to factor that in, but he brings a lot to the table."
Sweeney added that Kovalchuk has "indicated" he may want to sign with the Bruins, but won't be able to gauge the free agent's level of interest until the two have a face-to-face meeting. Kovalchuk has already met with the Los Angeles Kings, who are also considered a top contender for his services.
Anderson: You Want Kovalchuk on the Bruins
Additionally, Sweeney confirmed that the B's would only sign one player between Kovalchuk and Rick Nash, who is a candidate to return after coming to the Bruins in a trade deadline deal and playing the second half of the 2017-18 regular season and playoffs with Boston.
"It would have to be an either/or," Sweeney said. "It can’t be both."
Kovalchuk would provide the kind of size on the wing that's nowhere to be found on the Bruins' roster or in the system, and he would also have as much potential as anyone to pot 30-plus goals in a top-six role. The question is whether Sweeney is willing to extend himself beyond just one year for the 35-year-old, and whether he's willing to give him a similar kind of AAV that Patrick Marleau got with the Toronto Maple Leafs - $6.25 million, more than Brad Marchand's $6.125 million.
Would Sweeney really go there in order to land Kovalchuk, who hasn't played in an NHL game since 2013? Clearly, the GM isn't quite ready to turn away.
Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at [email protected].